Aqua4D solves clogging and saves water in French flower greenhouse
Morel Diffusion is a cyclamen seed producer, known worldwide for its colourful varieties. Headquartered in Frejus, southeastern France, their site covers a greenhouse area of 3 ha and 5000 m2 dedicated to R&D.
Despite their business success, their production was plagued by a problem familiar to many greenhouse growers: clogging of drippers and capillaries due to limescale or biofilm. After weighing up alternatives – including invasive chemicals – Morel decided in 2015 to try out the Aqua4D system, which has gained a reputation for solving exactly these kind of problems.
Four years later, this decision has had effects much more far-reaching than they had ever imagined. “Regarding the effects of irrigating with Aqua4D, we basically erased 20 years of irrigation expertise to start all over again from scratch,” says Jacques Reussard, Production Director at Morel. “We had to lower the pressure in the water networks, we went from 8.5 bars to 5.5 bars, and we reduced the watering time – we went down by 25%.”
What started as an endeavor to finally get rid of their clogging problem turned into nothing less than an irrigation revolution. The Aqua4D system unclogged their drippers due to its subtle effect on the structure of water: minerals and deposits are dissolved, meaning they do not adhere to surfaces, and existing deposits are flushed away:
Calcium Carbonate (limescale) elimination
However, this same transformation of the water improves the efficiency of the entire system, leading to optimized precision irrigation. As the water molecules are broken down into smaller clusters, the surface area is reduced. The water can then infiltrate more easily into the minute pores of the soil (a capillary effect), resulting in better water retention in the soil, and hence less irrigation water is required – 25% less water in Morel’s case, estimated at 1000m3 / h (see here for more info on water efficiency with Aqua4D).
The benefits were also felt by the plants themselves. Irrigation with Aqua4D leads to a better root system, with marked increase of hairy roots – there is no more “chimney effect”, and instead a better distribution of water so the root system can spread throughout the pot:
Of course, this all had knock-on effects for the business and their profits. As they could lower the network pressure from by 3.5 bars, they found this has increased the service life of their solenoid valves and dosing pumps.
Their staff were also feeling less pressure, so to speak, as they no longer needed to waste precious time solving clogging issues: “We needed 6 people to work on the maintenance of the drippers,” says Morel. “In the month following the installation, these 6 people could start working on something else instead.”
In fact, this increased labor productivity alone meant the Return on Investment for the first five Aqua4D units was just 5 months.
With more efficiency and healthier plants, they found themselves with something of a luxury problem: they had a noticeable positive surplus: “We always had 10% of extra plants in the greenhouse to compensate for the losses linked to clogging. But today, we sell 99% of the plants cultivated plus 10% that we have as backup.”
Needless to say, Morel Diffusion credit Aqua4D for an astonishing turnaround in their circumstances.
Here in France, as in California, Brazil, the Netherlands, and more than 40 other countries, Aqua4D is proving its efficacy as a system for better production quality, better network durability, water savings, better sanitary quality in greenhouses, and finally a system which is simple to set up, without maintenance or consumables.
See full interview with Jacques Reussard below: