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Colombia: Training in fertigation to improve the productivity of banana crops

As part of the activities programmed within the framework of contract N° 1040 of 2017, which was established by the Association of banana workers of Magdalena and La Guajira - ASBAMA and the Magdalena Government, a training workshop on Fertigation in the Banana Cultivation, which was attended by 50 professionals of the Network of Technical Assistants of banana of the region, was successfully carried out in the facilities of the Hotel Tamaca Beach Resort.

The workshop was taught by Agricultural Engineer Miguel Romo Pazos, a Magister in Administration of the National University of Colombia and Magister in Horticultural Production and Fertigation Specialist of the University of Almeria - Spain. Romo Pazos works as the General Manager of Fertirriego Ltda and has 20 years experience in technology transfer and the development of innovative irrigation systems solutions in different countries, such as Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico.

The training day was developed in two working sessions in which the members of the Network of Banana and Plantain Technical Assistants had the opportunity to learn fundamental aspects of fertigation that affect the performance and quality of the crop. The following topics were part of the event's agenda: 1) Integral Concepts of Fertigation, 2) Adequate agronomic, geometric and hydraulic design of fertigation systems and their components, 3) Calculation of fertigation solutions, 4) Appropriate technical management: monitoring, control and improvement with fertility water, and 5) Preventive maintenance program of the system. 

All of the topics were addressed through case studies considering the nutritional needs of the banana plant, the characteristics of the production areas, and a special emphasis on the challenges, costs, alternatives, technological advances, and benefits of the implementation of a successful fertigation system.

According to Miguel Romo Pazos, Magdalena's fertigation systems in banana cultivation are among the most advanced in the country. However, there are still shortcomings in basic and elementary practices that affect the process, such as the application of fertilizers in a continuous manner, the rigor in the application through the irrigation system, the composite nutritive solution, the improvement of the systems of fertilizer injection, filtration systems, the uniformity of irrigation in the field, hydraulics, and the doses of applied fertilizers. There are opportunities for improvement, and all participants recognized that the sector can't only rely on its technological equipment but that they also needed to have an adequate management of technical concepts and of all the aspects involved in a good irrigation system.

At the end of the day, the attendees said that the Magdalena banana production was very important for the country, which was becoming increasingly more valuable and that, despite having medium-grade fertigation systems, it still had many shortcomings and things to improve, both at the technical level and in the management of the hydraulic, agronomic, the control of monitoring systems and maintenance systems, and concepts.

Finally, they thanked Engineer Miguel Romo Pazos for his training, and the Center for Banana Studies of ASBAMA for continuing to generate spaces for the analysis, discussion, and exchange of knowledge on issues that are relevant to the productive sector.

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