The fact that good quality of water is important for the quality of the plants and the yield is worldwide known. The irrigation system can easily be called the vessels of hydroponic growing - providing the plants with everything they need to grow and produce the best fruits or flowers. Yet all smart systems require maintenance and that also applies to the narrow tubes of the drip irrigation, to prevent them from being clogged.
A company that offers a solution for this is Clearwater Technology. Located in Britain they serve the expanding UK greenhouse sector with smart water management. They work for floristry, herb growers and salad and fruit growers, where water is an important part of growing. Clearwater offers three solutions for improving water quality: Sampling and Risk Assessing, Treatment including the Clearwater Pureox 3500 ClO2 Generator and ongoing monitoring of the water systems.
Rosie Young, Clearwater
“Preventing block dripping is a huge issue in the UK. Replacing an irrigation system is cost intensive, whereas cleaning can be very time consuming. We find one of the main reasons for drip blocking is manganese, sulfide, iron and vitamins in the water. As it reacts with the biofilm and bacteria in the line it can create a sort of sludge-like algae”, Rosie Young, Senior Account Manager with Clearwater explains. “Process water in agricultural irrigation systems typically relies on chlorination, whereas we see that chlorine dioxide, or ClO2 results in a higher kill rate of waterborne organisms and removing biofilm. By using ClO2, a grower saves time and improves the productivity in the glasshouse.”
According to Rosie, the ClO2 has more benefits. “Throughout the season growers are battling with for example the fungi Pythium. As the oomycotestravels in water, this is especially a challenge to hydroponic growers, where water can be recirculation and in cases reused without an effective treatment. We found that ClO2 is the most effective killer of Pythium. By not shock dosing, but constantly adding a low concentration, we are constantly fighting it.”
To adjust the right dose, Clearwater developed the Pureox 3500. The ClO2 dosing system can be placed into existing irrigation systems, Rosie shows. “By adding the generator, you have complete control of the ClO2 dosing, as it constantly monitors levels of both ClO2 and Chlorite. The Pureox 3500 unit produces the purest and most stable ClO2 at low concentrations to ensure it is not gaseous and does not compromise the stability or yield. With less fall out, less impact of Pythium or Phytophtora it gives growers a higher consistency of the crop and can lead to a larger yield.”
Clearwater is not only helping growers by installing water disinfecting systems, they also view research as a big part of their company. “In our labs we have a full range of tests in order to create the best water treatments. We are not only looking to improve the water quality, but we also think about how our solutions can be committed to a more sustainable operation by increasing the water usage.”
In the UK, water management has become more important since 2008 when the government launched a new water strategy. This program is heavily focussed on the agricultural sector that needs to improve as a whole. “Within certain areas 60% of water is used in agriculture, which is a huge amount. With the new water strategy, people also are more aware of the cost benefits associated with water use, so they are more pushed towards recycling.” She explains how the costs for discharging are of importance, whereas by recycling the water these can be limited - making it interesting not only for sustainable matters, but also for the ROI of the company.
“For us at Clearwater Technology we are able to help people in the agricultural industry with sampling their water to be able to work out what can be recycled and what can be discarded Horticulture is at the forefront of this and even here we can help growers. In the end both the efficiency and the sustainability of the water system can be improved.”
For more information:
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