Getting the most from fertigation — nourishing crops with water and chemical fertilizers simultaneously — using different irrigation systems is the goal of Agricultural Research Service scientists seeking to devise best management practices for farmers.

Fertigation's advantages include a capacity to nourish crops throughout the season using less nitrogen and other fertilizers. Despite reducing time and costs associated with irrigating and fertilizing crops separately, fertigation still has room for improvement. One area ARS scientists are working on is delivery — putting nutrients where they're needed and at adjustable rates.

At the ARS U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Ariz., soil scientist Floyd Adamsen and agricultural engineer Douglas Hunsaker are identifying the optimal timing of mixing fertilizer with irrigation waters. Read more about fertigation research Agricultural Research magazine, available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov04/crops1104.htm.