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“Aqua-Hort® is light-years ahead in technology. This system will pay for itself.” Lars Marohn, President Lauren Hailey Technologies
Aqua Hort
Cyclamen plants benefit from copper ionization

Isolating, detecting and controlling waterborne pathogens is growing ever more important, as is pre-harvest food safety and disinfection. And, as growers fight disease, the potential for problems and financial loss increases proportionately with the size of the growing operation.

Lauren Hailey Technologies (LHT) designs, sells and services customized Aqua-Hort automated copper ionization systems that can help avoid or reduce the use of chemicals in fighting waterborne fungus. By stabilizing the copper supply to prevent fungus and bacteria attacks, these custom-designed systems promote healthier plants and stronger roots. Unlike other disinfection systems, LHT’s Aqua-Hort has no toxicity issues that could be damaging to plants. Aqua-Hort carries the copper full-strength from where it is injected all the way to the plant roots, giving maximum control.

Reliable, environmentally friendly Aqua-Hort is unexcelled in copper ionization. No other system can handle the volumes of water or get the results that Aqua-Hort does and, regardless of volume, the system is totally automated, so watering with Aqua-Hort provides continuous exposure and benefits. With reductions in pressure from pests and disease, production increases and the use of expensive chemicals decreases, saving both labor and money. A reliable, environmentally friendly Aqua-Hort system will have a positive impact on your business’s bottom line – and on the planet’s ecosystem.

A North Carolina State University study on E. coli has shown that copper ionization may be a superior alternative to other chemical disinfectants for inactivating microbial contaminants in irrigation water used on farms. An Aqua-Hort system virtually eliminates unsightly algae, which grows not only on plant media but on floors, where it can be a hazard to foot traffic. Aqua-Hort also eradicates algae, controls scale and bio-slime and kills pythium, phytopthora, erwinia, xanthomonas, agrobacteria, ralstonia, clavibacteria, fusarium and ramorum (sudden oak disease). Removing algae also reduces or eliminates problems with fungus gnats and shore flies.

Users of some of the country’s largest, most successful growers of plant and food crops are among the hundreds of growers already using easily operated Aqua-Hort systems, with many employing several units. Growers who get water from a stream, pond or lake – and those who use reclaimed water from a greenhouse – realize that the water must be treated with something, and they know that copper ionization can reduce the use of fungicides. A large West Coast greenhouse that purchased two Aqua-Hort units to combat problems with cyclamen found plant loss so greatly reduced that the units paid for themselves in less than a year.

LHT’s Aqua-Hort systems also eliminate labor-wasting clogging issues by unclogging old lines and cooling pads. Unlike chlorine, ozone and other disinfectants, copper is carried throughout the Aqua-Hort system, cleaning pipes and emitters and giving maximum control all the way to the roots. As clogging issues disappear, so does the expensive, labor-intensive cleaning of emitters. The end result is finer plants produced with less labor.

For growers who aren’t aware of the water-monitoring that needs to be done and who continue to rely on fungicides and other products to correct their problems, Lauren Hailey Technologies offers free diagnoses and recommendations. In fact, LHT won’t recommend a solution before our experts have diagnosed your water-quality problems and consulted with you about these and related issues.

Lauren Hailey Technologies also works closely with experts in the corporate and academic sectors and is a sponsoring company of the Water Education Alliance for Horticulture, which helps growers manage irrigation water efficiently and sustainably while reducing the risk of transmitting waterborne plant pathogens. To receive the free Alliance newsletter, visit the Alliance website and click on SUBSCRIBE at the top of the screen.

The best copper ionization system on the market, expert advice, customized solutions and superior service after the sale have earned LHT near total customer satisfaction.

The Aqua-Hort System

Aqua-Hort is available in sizes suitable for use in everything from small nurseries to reservoirs. LHT installations can range from one gallon per minute to whatever volume is needed.  Designed specifically for individual applications, each system is 100 percent automated, requires very little maintenance and carries a five-year warranty on electronics.

An Aqua-Hort system reduces the use of fungus chemicals, which means positive economical consequences and points in the MPS system. A controlled supply of copper ions was difficult in the past, because copper binds easily before coming into action. With Aqua-Hort, a regulated supply of copper ions is achieved at the moment of watering, and the amount released is within normal fertilizer standards. Recommended dosing levels vary with the type and severity of disease problems and other factors.

Built on a stainless steel stand, the standard Aqua-Hort system consists of an electronic control box, an electromagnetic treatment pipe, an automatic flow meter, and four set of electrodes for release of copper. A microprocessor keeps copper at the desired level when flow and conductivity vary. The controls can yield 25 amps, which is sufficient for most mixers, but controls yielding much higher levels are available if needed. The extended version is used when large water amounts are applied as in Dutch flood floor-watering systems.

Aqua-Hort runs automatically during watering, with the level of copper set on the front panel. The system normally is installed downstream of the fertilizer, and treatment is made during watering. Delivered along with the unit, a test set produced by Merck measures the free copper levels. The electrodes must be replaced when worn out, with their lifetime dependant on consumption.

What the Experts Say

In an abstract presented as a poster to the American Society for Microbiology, Dr. Otto D. Simmons III of North Carolina State University found that “Copper provides a stable disinfectant residual in water and appears to be relatively effective for bacteria and viruses.”

Writing in an article on copper ionization, Ratus Fischer, a greenhouse expert who with Lars Marohn and Aksel De Lasson coauthored a Grower Talks Magazine article on the subject, has called copper ionization “a predictable means of pathogen, algae and bio-film control.” He declared it “valuable in treating recirculated or pond water” and said tests show that free copper can reduce both bacterial and viral indicators. “(G)iven the stability of copper in water,” he wrote, “this may be a suitable disinfectant that can be applied to irrigation water for control of microbial contaminants on farms.”

Tests have determined copper ionization to be effective against bacterial fruit blotch in the transplant house. In a scientific article, University of Florida professor Donald L. Hopkins and biologist Constance M. Thompson wrote: “Ionized copper provided control at a copper concentration that was 800-fold lower than with the cupric hydroxide. This was probably because of the high solubility of the ionized copper and the positive charge of the ion that attracted the bacteria. With the ionized copper, there also is much less copper applied, which should reduce run-off of copper onto the soil. Ionized copper easily could be incorporated into the overhead irrigation systems used by many transplant growers.”

Aqua-Hort Dosing Levels

The copper-ion dosing level for Aqua-Hort water varies with the type and severity of disease problems and the type and health of the plant. Other factors to be considered are watering strategy, climate, and care in growing.

The right dosing level will vary from nursery to nursery. Basically, copper-ion levels are adjusted with each watering, because the disease problem stems from the pot and the plant – not from the water, which only carries the spores. Infested plants release active spores continuously.

Some growers of nursery stock have applied Aqua-Hort copper ions in intervals, for example: three times a week for 10 minutes with a high dose. Basically, however, there are two reliable methods for arriving at the right dosing for a crop. (1) Start low, observe the crop and gradually increase the dosing until the disease is subdued and the crop is healthy. (2) Start high, observe the crop and gradually decrease the dosing until the problem does not reappear and the crop still is good.

In years of experience, the Aqua-Hort staff has learned much about appropriate application levels. The following table reflects some of those findings.

Standard Aqua-Hort Dosing Levels (ppm)
Group Dosing With Recirculation Dosing Without Recirculation
Ornamental potted plants 1,5 2,0
Young plants 1,5 3,0
Cut flowers 1,5 2,5
Nursery stock 1,5 3,0
Vegetables 0,3 1,5
Storage water with fertilizer 1,0 2,5
Storage water without fertilizer 0,5 1,5

Other Helpful Information

  • Fungus normally is dosed lower than bacteria.

  • Plants irrigated from above normally are dosed lower than with sub-irrigation or drip.

  • For pot orchids with long intervals between watering from above and with the problem of bacterial spots, the recommended concentration is 2,5-3 ppm.

  • For outdoor crops grown in areas with rainy periods, dosing at intervals still is recommended to allow for a supply of free copper ions to kill spores released in the meantime.

Water Education Alliance