Uncovering a Mystery: Jim Shubat talks ATP testing

Different greenhouses have different water needs, but all greenhouses share the same need of understanding and maintaining the quality of their irrigation water. Re-using water – while beneficial in cost, conservation and energy – comes with the potential risk of spreading disease from a single plant to the rest of the greenhouse.

Unless tested, the microbial world of the irrigation water often remains a mystery to the grower and a possible, but unconfirmed, source of present and future issues.

“Bad” water isn’t always visible, though its negative effects on plants can easily be seen. Diseases and parasites like phytophthora, fusarium, mosaic virus and botrytis can be transmitted via contaminated water. Even with visibly diseased or affected plants, growers may not think to look at the irrigation water.

While different tests are available to determine microbial presence, some can take days to generate results. ATP testing, however, can often be done in situ¸ providing growers objective data within a matter of minutes.

As part of its AVIVE™ Water Productivity Program for greenhouses, SanEcoTec includes ATP testing, or more specifically cellular ATP (cATP) testing.

ATP or Adenosine triphosphate is present in every living cell. It’s the main transport of energy and is necessary for feeding and reproduction processes. Cellular ATP means that only the living cells in the water are quantified. cATP testing allows for pre-emptive problem solving and can be easily integrated into regular operations as a control mechanism.

“With cATP testing, we can quickly determine whether the water is the ‘smoking gun’”, says Jim Shubat, Chief Technology Officer of SanEcoTec. “It’s this rapid feedback loop that makes ATP testing so valuable and makes it easier to implement control strategies. That is where AVIVE™ comes in.” AVIVE™ is a science and data driven water program that combines advanced technologies, such as ATP testing, with a new generation of hydrogen peroxide, Huwa-San® Peroxide (HSP). HSP provides improved water quality.

Shubat also notes that water may start out with acceptable levels of microbial content, but, as it travels through the drip irrigation system of the greenhouse, the microbial numbers start to climb and often exceed the recommended limits. HSP holds residual longer than traditional water treatments, providing effective control along the entire irrigation system.

“After implementing the AVIVE™ program,” says Shubat, “We have seen tremendous drops in cATP.”


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