The goal of the project is to integrate knowledge from the water technology and horticultural sectors to develop solutions for the greenhouse industry to manage the microbial quality of water and root environments, leading to more robust and more productive, zero emission (for water and nutrients) cropping systems.
The location of the study is particularly notable. Over the past few decades, the Netherlands has developed into an agricultural powerhouse which, according to a recent National Geographic profile, “shows what the future of farming looks like”. Wageningen University and KWR are academic leaders in their fields, the global benchmarks for agronomy and water science respectively.
The ultimate aim of the project is to develop strategies for zero emission greenhouse cropping systems to solve the problems caused by biofilm formation in irrigation lines, specifically for preventing the clogging of pipelines/drippers and distribution of pathogens through the irrigation system. The biofilm monitor developed by KWR will be used for researching the effect of disinfection and biocidal agents on biofilm removal, simulating conditions as they occur in a real crop situation. This will take into account, among other things, flow rate, downtime and temperature. It is set up at Wageningen University in Bleiswijk, and was unveiled at WaterEvent 2018 on 4 October.
Aqua4D is part of the second stage of the research, looking at the effects of disinfectants / methods and biocides on biofilm formation. Being tested alongside Aqua4D’s electromagnetic solution are Cindro B.V.’s silver stabilised hydrogen peroxide, Biotamax’s non-pathogenic micro-organism solution, and WaterQ’s ultrafiltration. Netherlands-based Raymond Lescrauwaet is an expert on the effects of electromagnetism (EM) in greenhouse environments and works with Aqua4D in Benelux & Germany: “This is an exciting study as the Aqua4D system, due to the effect of its finely-calibrated EM signals on organic matter, is proven to be an extremely effective biofilm solution, so we are looking forward to seeing it compared with other methods.”