There is no doubt that the recent drought experienced across Europe is a massive cause for concern for growers. Water availability and pricing have a huge impact on the ability to grow and sustain profitability, and many growers are already feeling it.
Droughts like these are likely to occur with increasing frequency. This means that water-intensive sectors, such as greenhouses, may need to rethink their relationship with water, from supply to storage and reuse.
The challenge of water availability is daunting and there is no simple solution. However, there are many ways growers can save and reuse water. Even relatively small amounts of water can add up and make a difference when dealing with such a large area.
The relationship between water and humidity control
One thing greenhouse operators can do to optimize their water use is to reconsider their humidity control methods. The humidity in the air is a big part of the greenhouse water cycle. After all, most of the water absorbed by a plant is released into the air as vapor.
Greenhouses around the world already use dehumidifiers to control humidity. They do this because this relatively new technology helps create better growing conditions and saves significant amounts of energy.
But dehumidification has an added benefit. It captures and collects evaporated water, which would traditionally be rejected and completely lost to the environment through ventilation.
Reusable dehumidifier water
Compressor dehumidifiers reduce humidity by condensing water from the air. A popular example is DryGair, which can collect up to 48 liters of distilled water per hour per unit. This represents hundreds or even thousands of liters per day in large installations. This distilled water can be safely reused for a variety of purposes.
Besides being available for cleaning and other peripheral needs, distilled water from the dehumidifier can also be used to optimize irrigation water. As any greenhouse operator knows, drainage water from irrigation has a high concentration of nutrients and cannot simply be disposed of. Of course, when it comes to conserving water, it would be a waste to throw that water away anyway.
Distilled water from the dehumidifier, which contains no nutrients, is perfect for watering nutrient-rich runoff water. By adding distilled water, you can control the concentration of nutrients, creating the perfect irrigation mix from the water you’ve already used.
Of course, this alone will not solve the water crisis. However, it is a great example of how greenhouse growers can rethink their relationship with water in order to conserve and reuse as much of it as possible.
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