In 2019, former grower John van Ruijven sold his first Vital Oxidizer to a practicing colleague. There are now hundreds in use to enrich irrigation water with oxygen in a simple but effective way. The tried-and-tested concept also forms the basis of his consultancy practice, which focuses on sustainable cultivation methods. Sensors show the progression and results.
We meet John at his test street in the Presscon production hall in Honselersdijk, where the Vital Oxidizer was conceived and developed years ago. Since 2019, he has been selling the aeration concept for water to a wide range of customers through his own company JVR Tecmar. Greenhouse horticulture is by far the main share. Thanks to the necessary positive attention, the sales figures skyrocketed.
Vital Oxidizer pump
“This is where I test the sets before they go to the customer,” explains the Westlander, while holding an oxygen sensor in a container of water that is bubbling with vitality. “There is always customisation involved, but the principle is very simple. With a Vital Oxidizer pump we add extra oxygen to the water. By properly adjusting the proportions of pressure, back pressure and pipe diameter, an intense vortex is created and the fine air bubbles - you can also call them nanobubbles - remain in solution for a very long time. We call that vitalized water."
Saturated with oxygen
Vitalized water offers several benefits, especially for growers. Firstly, water like this keeps the entire water system clean, without the use of chemicals such as chlorine or hydrogen peroxide, says John. “Bacteria and other microorganisms can no longer attach themselves to the inside of pipes, drippers, filters and valves. This is how we create an aerobic environment. This also reduces the water-borne disease pressure."
Equally important is the fact that the plant roots receive water saturated with oxygen, he continues. “An active root system consumes oxygen and thanks to this system there is no shortage of it. Not even for the rear plants in the last tap section. Even in drain pits, where the excess water is collected after an irrigation turn, we measure oxygen percentages of up to 120%. In a conventional water system, percentages of less than 50% are no exception. ”
Needless to say, the former grower notes that a healthy root environment is necessary to support the natural resilience of crops. “Fortunately, that is something that growers are increasingly interested in,” he says. “A resilient crop is less susceptible to diseases and pests, which means that the use of crop protection agents can be significantly reduced. The crop is also less sensitive to stress situations such as high radiation, there are fewer problems with the absorption of nutrients and photosynthesis is more efficient. In other words, vitalized water helps growers to produce more at a lower cost.”
Those are claims that don't lie. Can Van Ruijven also substantiate them? “I certainly can, but I'm not actually saying anything new. Researchers and growers have already demonstrated these effects often and in numerous crops. Nowadays this is no longer so difficult with sensors. Take this oxygen meter, he says, taking the probe out of the water. “This allows you to objectively monitor the oxygen content at any place in a water system or substrate. Continuously if desired. If you connect the meter to a Senbox, the measurement results are sent real-time and wirelessly to the central computer and displayed graphically. That way you can permanently monitor the water quality."
These and other sensors, such as a redox meter, fluorescence and photosynthesis sensors, help John and his customers monitor growing conditions and crop performance and efficiently manage crop production. “We used to grow mainly by feeling”, he summarizes. “We then received measuring boxes for the climate and nowadays growers and researchers have a whole range of sensors at their disposal. Sendot supplies robust sensors and excellent service. I really enjoy working with it. ”
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