"Once upon a time, leaf, soil or fruit analysis was used to program fertigation or nutritional plans. In the past 20 years, AGQ Labs has studied and patented a new technology based on the understanding of nutritional values and of their behaviour in the soil-plant-water system," explains Estanislao Martínez, CEO and founder of AGQ Labs.
"This means that, at any time during the phenological cycle, the nutritional needs of plant and nutritional element levels are known, and it is therefore possible to modify the fertigation plan depending on the presence of stress elements such as salinity, root asphyxia, toxicity," continues Martinez.
Antonio Domínguez, director of I+D AGQ Labs, explains how the company patented a practical, precise and inexpensive instrument to obtain useful information. "Water and fertilizer levels are evaluated with the Soluzione Fertilizzante Reale (SFR) directly on the irrigation line. Samples are collected with probes. This data enables us to check the behaviour of ions in the root area and help identify the reactions between the entry (SFR) and the soil as well as the response of plants during the different phases."
The information is then linked to the nutritional status of the plant thanks to leaf analysis that help determine any toxicity or deficiency that might reduce productivity.
The objective is to maximise productivity in terms of yields and quality. Of course, crops have different needs and absorption levels. According to Dominguez, this technology helped characterise the commercial needs of the main crops and devise maximum and minimum limits for the new varieties.
Another important aspect is the reduction of fertilizer loss caused by soil leaching and contamination, thus making agriculture more sustainable.
Finally, Andrea Bresolin, AGQ Labs representative for Italy, cited the case of a kiwi producer who, thanks to the data collected, was able to change fertigation and obtain better yields and vegetative balance. "The initial profile highlighted the lack of irrigation and the abundance of organic matter which, together with other elements such as nitrates, urea and sodium, caused nutrition problems. This in turn meant that the plant did not use calcium and potassium, which was lacking in fruits. This deficiency at a root level affected the plant, which was very vegetative and had problems on the productive branches - which were not lignified - and concerning the quality of fruits."
"It was also proven how this imbalance generates antagonism between the various elements, which are then not absorbed by the plant and favour leaching. Thanks to this information and to a correct nutrition, we have managed to decrease the need for fertilizer by 30% and to increase the percentage used by the plant."
"The future of sustainable production is in precision cultivation, and AGQ Labs is doing all it can to supply new solutions to the sector."
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