Quick picture of water quality

Because of the rapidly growing reuse of water in greenhouse horticulture, there is an increasing need to have quick access to information about the water quality, so that, whenever necessary, corrective measures can be quickly taken regarding the plants’ water and nutrient provision, and the water treatment. As yet, there are no methods or concepts tailored to horticulture, which would enable operational adjustments on the basis of water quality. The objective of this project is to develop them.

Quick measurement of new parameters

There exist ever-smaller sensors that are capable of quickly measuring a growing number of parameters at a relatively low cost. Within ‘Waterkwaliteit in Beeld’  (Picturing Water Quality) research is being done on the possibility of the online measurement of a number of new parameters (chlorophyll, UV fluorescence, oxygen, sodium, potassium, turbidity, redox), because this would provide a quick picture of the water quality – including the presence of algae, organics and microbial activity, the ion balance, and the effectiveness of water cleaning. This component of the project is being carried out by Groen Agro Control and the sensor company Sendot.

In complement, KWR is for its part studying a method to assess the effectiveness of the disinfection faster; today, this involves a culture method (plate count) which takes a few days. This is too long to allow for operational adjustments: the results need to be available within a day. KWR is therefore comparing the sensitivity of different methods (with and without sensors), so as to permit a quick assessment of the effect of disinfection on different microorganisms.

Quick adjustments based on water quality

The project’s results should make it possible to adjust horticultural processes more quickly on the basis of the water quality. Potentially, it could even be possible to make adjustments on the basis of the removal of contaminations by specific pathogens and/or for specific kinds of crops. Ultimately, the project will provide knowledge and technology that can be applied in the entire horticultural sector.

The consortium consists of renowned research organisations in the area of water quality in horticulture (Control Food & Flowers Foundation and KWR Water Research Institute), specialist measurement and technology companies (Groen Agro Control, Sendot, UV Desinfectieconsortium), and crop cultivation interest groups (LTO Glaskracht, Plantum). This project is co-financed by the TKI Horticulture and Propagation Materials programme.