Greenhouse Water and Wastewater – A Manageable Resource
By Treena Hein
With the recent release of the findings from Ontario’s environment ministry regarding Ontario waterways, it is now more evident than ever that water and wastewater monitoring will be an important part of energy management for greenhouse operators.
Water, just like any other input used in a greenhouse operation, plays a very important part in the life cycle of the plants being grown. Without it, you have no crop.
At the same time, there is run-off and discharge which often contains high levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium and copper (20-25% of nutrients in feed water remain unused). If not handled correctly, this can leak into nearby creeks and waterways, impacting ecosystems (and possibly other growers) in the surrounding area.
While the focus of wastewater treatment is right now in Southern Ontario, as it has the largest concentration of vegetable greenhouses in the country, there are valuable lessons to be learned by growers everywhere. Run-off from greenhouse operations needs to be contained and treated appropriately before being discharged. This means, just like any other input and output, it needs to be monitored and measured. Its processing must be continuously improved upon.
For improvements to occur on a regular basis, it is imperative that growers speak with their consultants and suppliers about how the industry is changing and where improvements are being achieved. It is only by staying current and making evaluations of whether there is room to improve upon current processes that changes will occur.
While we need our local growers and the food they supply, it is essential that we also have a clean, reliable water sources. It is up to the industry as a whole to work together to bring about improvements.
Although the report from the Environment Minister is less than glowing, it does provide the industry an opportunity to garner improvements and for efficiencies to be achieved.
Lisa Brodeur is a Quality Assurance Supervisor at 360 Energy