Transfer of INNOvative techniques for sustainable WAter use in FERtigated crops
In European countries, the cultivation of fertigated crops frequently suffers from a scarcity of water, and the intensity of cultivation poses significant potential risks to water quality.
In crop production, especially in greenhouse cultivation, fertilization combined with irrigation, the so-called "fertigation", has become established in many European countries. In many regions, however, the cultivation of fertigated crops frequently suffers from a scarcity of water, and the intensity of cultivation poses significant potential risks to water quality. Innovative technologies and knowledge are available, but simply not implemented at the farms level.
Identifying, evaluating and investing in the best available technologies for use at farm level is not always done easily or quickly. Therefore the FERTINNOWA consortium, involving 23 partners across 9 EU member states and South-Africa, has been established with industry and science communities to collect and exchange information on methods and technologies for the sustainable production of fertigated horticultural crops.
Our FERTINNOWA project includes various stakeholders (researchers, growers, policy-makers, industry, environmental groups etc.) at several levels including the socio-economic and regulatory level (national and European) with a special focus on the implications of the EU Water Framework Directive and Nitrate Directive. A major objective of the FERTINNOWA project is to create a database of innovative technologies and practices that could improve the environmental and economic sustainability of high-value vegetable, fruit and ornamental crops.
We are currently evaluating existing, novel and emerging technologies used in fertigated crop production in different climate zones throughout Europe in a benchmarking exercise. We will then inform growers of the range of technologies and practices that could help to improve on-farm efficiencies and economic returns in vegetable, fruit and ornamental production. A selection of the most promising technologies will be showcased on our partners’ sites across Europe to demonstrate to growers the benefits of integrating these into commercial production.
All tools, databases and other resources generated will be shared within the consortium and the stakeholder group, and will be made available to the broader farming and scientific communities, policy-makers, the industry and the general public. FERTINNOWA will help growers to implement innovative technologies and new approaches to improve on-farm decision-making, increase resource use efficiency, and to enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of intensive horticulture.
Involvement and tasks of Fraunhofer IGB
The Nutrient Management Group of Fraunhofer IGB is engaged in two work packages:
l WP4: Transfer of innovative technologies to the horticultural sector
l WP5: Exchange of technologies
In WP4 we will support with the scouting of innovative technologies from other sectors that can be implemented (after small adaptation) to the fertigated growth sector and subsequently develop a suited business model.
In WP5 we are engaged in exchanging and showcasing techniques for nutrient recovery from wastewater originated in greenhouses. Here, we will contribute with our technologies for ion exchange. Especially, we will showcase our ePhos® technology for the electrochemical recovery of phosphorus from wastewater – without addition of any chemicals.
Fertigation and irrigation are integral parts of modern sustainable horticultural production. The effects of climate change and population growth on the demand for water, and concerns over water quality due to environmental contamination are drivers for new legislation and the development of innovative technologies to deliver more sustainable water use for fertigated crops. The project consortium would like to invite you to participate in the project to help to build an efficient knowledge exchange platform of the latest developments in fertigation best practice.