By Clint Thompson
The Clemson Center Pivot Fertigation Calculator provides South Carolina’s specialty crop producers a more efficient way to inject fertilizer through drip irrigation. The tool, released in late 2020, allows growers to make timely decisions in the field. All they need is the smart phone application (app), says Zack Snipes, Clemson Extension Area Horticulture Agent and Assistant Program Team Leader.
“We’ve been injecting fertilizer through the irrigation systems for years and years. Extension agents always get the call come springtime, ‘How much fertilizer do I run through my drip system?’ That’s a loaded question because every time someone asks you that, it’s a different answer,” Snipes said.
Snipes and fellow Extension agents collaborated with Kendall Kirk, a Clemson precision agriculture engineer, who developed the app. Farmers just need to type important information like the crop, acreage, maturity range and fertility source. The app calculates how much fertilizer is needed at that moment.
“You just plug in your acreage. You plug in the crop you want, and then we have based on the crop handbook where the scientists get together every year to update the fertility recommendations, we have those pre-loaded in there. If you’re growing a tomato crop and it’s day 14 to day 28, they’ve got it dialed in with how much fertilizer those plants need at that time,” Snipes said.
It’s a much more precise and efficient method of applying fertilizer than growers just guessing what amount to apply.
“Honestly, I think that’s what people were doing for a long time. ‘Do I put two glunks today or do I put four glunks?’ That’s how they were measuring. Now we’ve got it dialed in to where you use a precise amount,” Snipes said. “If you’re in the field, you can just pull it up, look at it and you can get a number right then. How many times has somebody called me and I’m helping somebody else? Or if I’m in a meeting or something and I get back to them later that day. Now, they don’t have to rely on us being available at that exact moment.”