There are many advantages to recycling water for irrigation with a water recovery system. For example, it may reduce water waste in states with severe drought, as well as prevent off-site pollution. However, there could be some negative effects to water recovery systems as well. Not only is there a slow rate of turn around on your initial investment if it’s not installed and maintained correctly, but also there is a risk of spreading disease.
While the risks are high with recycled water irrigation, there have been success stories. According to an article globalnewswire reported, farms like Kind Love – a medical marijuana farm in Denver, CO – have been able to recover 97% of their wastewater, “by installing a closed-circuit desalination (CCD) reverse osmosis (RO) system.”
Because every greenhouse is different and requires a unique custom-made solution, there is no standard approach to designing a water recycling system. Larger operations, such as nurseries, may benefit from a tail water recovery system while smaller operations like greenhouses may consider flood floors.
Treating Irrigation Runoff
Treating irrigation runoff is one of the most important factors to maintaining a clean and healthy irrigation system for your crops. This is important in maintaining a clean and healthy irrigation system for your crops, so consider your options in great detail when choosing a water recycling system. For nurseries, the amount of water recovery basins depends on the size, layout, and topography of their operation. In greenhouses, water from irrigation runoff can be recycled a bit more easily through flood floors because the water collected can be treated chemically, physically, or biologically.
Water Recovery System
If you are considering using a water recovery system for your nursery, consider first of all the size and placement of your basin. Taking into mind the topography of your land (and gravity) will determine the overall efficacy of your water recycling efforts. Building the largest basin possible increases natural filtration, as sedimentation will begin to occur and the larger organic chunks will sink to the bottom and settle. Depending on the size of your operation, you may want to even consider having more than one recovery basin – ideally for pre and post disinfection for maximum filtration while recycling water.
Also keep in mind the type of crop(s) you are trying to harvest and the type of water recycling technique you would like to employ. The transmission of disease between crops is perhaps one of the top concerns with growers, so it is crucial that tail water recovery systems (basins) do not transport chemicals or diseases from one area of your property to another. Not all plants react the same to chemically treated water (such as chlorine treatment), so do some research before making this investment.
Flood Floor System
Flood floors are ideal for greenhouses and smaller types of operations, where irrigation runoff “drips” into a collection tray below the crops. This water can then be treated and pumped back up into the plants as irrigation. Smaller flood floor systems used in greenhouses allow for more versatility with chemical/fungicide treatments when using multiple feeds, making water recycling effective in such an environment.
What many greenhouse operators would recommend is a water recycling technique that is combined with an existing irrigation system such as rainwater collection. In addition, water recycling may appeal to a more environmentally-conscious audience, which in turn can have a positive community response when employed as a marketing tool which will help set your greenhouse or nursery apart from the rest. Although the financial rewards of investing in a water recovery system may not seem apparent initially, the value will likely accrue with long term use meaning that financial savings and political benefits from this practice may be substantial for your operation.
Worth it for your operation?
That all being said, the most important aspect to a successful water recovery system is proper filtration. It only takes one diseased plant to contaminate your entire harvest. A total loss of crop due to tainted irrigation water may cost you up to ten times what you initially invested in implementing a water recovery system! Properly disinfecting your irrigation water ensures that plant pathogens and disease are not being recycled along with the rest of the water.
If you are concerned about the potential biohazard risk of spreading disease that recycling water poses, implementing a water recovery system may not be the best solution for you; however, putting such a system into place is a proactive water management practice, especially in geographic areas where drought affects operations.
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*DISCLAIMER* Americover DOES NOT install water recovery systems, and the information above should be considered only as potential advice. Implementing a water recovery system may impose the risk of disease for your crops if not done properly, and Americover hereby does not claim responsibility in any risks that may arise from implementing such a system.