Solving water quality issues
Looking after your water supply is essential to good quality production. But what should you do if you find a problem with your water quality?
Ben Geijtenbeek, Senior Crop Technical Specialist at Syngenta Flowers®, based at Enkhuizen in the Netherlands, says the first step is to identify the problem correctly.
“Bad water can only lead to poor results in production,” he says, adding, “knowing the real cause of the problem is the only way to find the best solution.”
Sometimes, he says, the process is simple but at other times it can be challenging. Here are the two most common problems and their solutions:
High alkaline or Electrical Conductivity (EC) levels: add clean water from a better source or add calculated amounts of acid to lower the pH. Reverse osmosis (RO) is an effective solution when there is no clean or affordable water source nearby. Although not cheap, RO is a stable and long-term solution. Note, however, that it increases the need for drip irrigation above sprinklers to avoid unnecessary waste.
Fungal spores, viruses or bacterial contamination, so called ‘waterborne pathogens’: This can happen when using ditch water or your own recirculated water. It requires a complete clean of the water by, for instance, one of the following – Chlorination (NaClO); sand filter; heating; UV treatment or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2); Ozone (O3) in combination with UV light, or whatever your installation can combine. Installations nowadays are also able to remove chemical residues from the water as a condition for discharging any water into the environment.
Ben advises that these solutions should be provided by a specialist water treatment company. They will develop the correct technique for you, based on your particular problem and geography, and ensure treatment complies with local regulations.
One thing you should never do, says Ben, is delay seeking help when you find a water quality issue.