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‘No silver bullet’ for water management


January 30, 2013
By Dave Harrison

Jan. 30, 2013, Vineland, Ont. — There's no silver bullet when it comes
to greenhouse and nursery water treatment and management. It takes a holistic approach to
assess and accommodate all links in the system.

Jan. 30, 2013, Vineland, Ont. — There's no silver bullet when it comes to greenhouse and nursery water treatment and management. It takes a holistic approach – integrated water management, if you will – to assess and accommodate all links in the system.

That was the consensus of speakers taking part in the "Greenhouse and Nursery Water Treatment and Management Workshop" hosted earlier today by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

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It was a full house, with about 90 people attending. Included were growers, suppliers, extension specialists and researchers. The interest was not surprising, as growers are increasingly upgrading their water management/treatment systems.

Speakers included:

• Donna Speranzini, a water management specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She discussed "Greenhouse Water Management: Where We Are and How We Got Here."

She updated research efforts in the province, and the commitment by the provincial ministries of the environment and agriculture to work with growers on the issue.

• Dr. Paul Fisher, from the University of Florida, described a variety of water treatment technologies.

"There is no silver bullet," he noted, adding that systems should incorporate more than one technology. "Use a multi barrier approach."

He also stressed the need to minimize runoff and overwatering. "The less waste, the less water you have to treat."

• Dr. Sarah White of Clemson University assessed the strengths and weaknesses of various filtering systems, including constructed wetlands.

Natural wetlands are the "kidneys of the landscape" in filtering out impurities. Constructed wetlands work the same way. "They are very complex systems … holistic … and they work really, really well."

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Donna Speranzini, Dr. Paul Fisher and Dr. Sarah White.

Sand filtration systems are also effective. They are generally low maintenance and require "little or no inputs."

• VRIC's Dr. Youbin Zheng was program moderator. He outlined work now underway at the University of Guelph to develop a comprehensive website covering greenhouse water management and treatment technologies. It's expected the website will be online within a few months.


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