Digestate is a nutrient-rich fertilizer and appropriate techniques are required for its application during the maize season to reduce losses and increase the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). The performance of two different fertigation techniques (drip irrigation and pivot) were assessed using the digestate liquid fraction. A two-year field test was carried out at two different sites in Lombardy, northern Italy. At each site, fertigation with pivot (P-F, site 1) or drip (D-F, site 2) systems was compared to reference fields where the same irrigation techniques without addition of digestate were used. During the two seasons, the performance of the fertigation systems, amount of fertilizers used, soil nitrogen content, yields, and nitrogen content of the harvested plants were monitored. The digestate application averaged 5 m3
/ha per fertigation event with P-F and 4.9 m3
/ha with D-F corresponding, respectively, to 28 and 23 kg N/ha. Both irrigation systems were suitable for fertigation provided that the digestate was adequately filtrated. Our results suggest that fertigation with digestate, if properly managed, can be applied during the growing season up to the full amount of nitrogen required by the crop.
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