Case Study: Aussie ingenuity boosts Malaysia’s food bowl

By February 2, 2017News

When a Queensland dad invented a chlorine free sanitisation system called Hydroxypure in 2014 – the only one to receive a tick of approval from the National Asthma Council Australia – Waterco saw its potential to revolutionise more than the swimming pool market. Since then, this successful partnership has seen Hydroxypure installed all over the globe, including this hydroponic farm in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands.

Location

Situated roughly 150-kilometres North of Kuala Lumpur, in Pahang West Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands is a lush, picturesque region peppered with tea plantations, dense forests and sprawling strawberry farms. According to Lonely Planet, the area was named after explorer Sir William Cameron, who mapped the highlands in 1885, and developed it during the British colonial period.

Today, the Cameron Highlands is considered the heart of Malaysia’s vegetable and flower farming sectors, which thrive on the region’s fertile soil and cool climate. Among the food production farms and traditional Orang Asli villages is a sizeable hydroponic lettuce farm that’s responsible for feeding Malaysia’s masses.

Challenges

Faced with poor water quality and production delays, the hydroponic farmers turned to Waterco’s Hydroxypure to help boost propagation with a system free from chemical by-products.

“The challenge with this massive hydroponic farm involved the open water races and drains, which is essentially a network of long channels where each lettuce is individually grown and fed,” explains Hydroxypure inventor Nick Briscoe. “The channels were filling up with algae and, when lettuce gets bacteria in it during the propagation phase, it dies very quickly once it’s picked.”

Compounding the problem was Malaysia’s lack of quality starting water, which is attributed to domestic sewage, livestock farming and other liquid organic waste products polluting the country’s waterways.

“So we had three challenges to address,” Nick says. “One was cleaning up the water races as they were getting clogged up with algae, two was creating a healthier lettuce that would last longer after it was picked, and three was improving propagation time.”

Solution

Two trials using Waterco’s Hydroxypure filtration system were set up using food grade H2O2 at 35 per cent: Trial 1 was small scale with 100 crops, while Trial 2 involved a significantly larger growing area involving 16,000 crops spread out over one acre.

The objectives with both trials included:

  • Comparing growth rate with control set;
  • Measuring disease/mortality rate against the control set; and
  • Preventing algae from growing in the hydroponics channels and drains.

“The first thing that happened was that we solved the problem in the water races, which were all clean and free of algae,” Nick explains. “The second significant thing that occurred was that propagation went from 55 days down to 31 days.”

Benefits

Hydroxypure’s hybrid ozone technology stimulates the action of the sun by generating a high-intensity wavelength of light, which in turn produces a clean form of ozone that is free of impurities. The natural flocculating effect that ozone has on water greatly increases the capability of the filtration system to be able to filter out oxidised contaminants in the water, leaving hydroponic water clean and crystal clear.

“Hydrogen peroxide, which is hydrogen and oxygen, does not form any by-products when you’re adding other chemicals,” says Nick. “This enabled us to achieve positive results on the hydroponic farm without upsetting the other growing systems.”

Waterco’s group marketing director, Bryan Goh, refers to the Hydroxypure system as the most significant innovation in water treatment that’s occurred in the past two decades.

“PTP is one of the most powerful oxidisers in nature,” he explains. “It’s known as the new treatment process of the 21st century because of the ability of the reaction to remove all bacterial threats. It’s far superior to other oxidation processes currently available, and the synergy of the two disinfectants ensures water environment is safe without the creation of harmful chemical by-products.”

Prior to using Hydroxypure, the farm’s water races and drains were clogged up with algae.

 

Since using the innovative Hydroxypure system, propagation went from 55 days down to 31 days.