Ionization in Agriculture
Though used in Japan for decades for its low cost and efficacy, awareness of the sterilization power of ionization in agriculture is only now beginning to make its way to the forefront.
The agricultural industry is waking up to the increased effectiveness, lower cost and safety benefits associated with electrolyzed water. Non-toxic to animals, humans with minimal impact on the nutritional value of foods are key reasons why the industry is turning to ionization for sterilization.
Basic Principles and Uses
Commercial water ionizers produce large quantities of ER (electrolyzed reduced/alkaline) and EO (electrolyzed oxidizing/strong acidic) water through the process of electrolysis. For stronger waters, a catalyst is used creating concentrations of water containing alkaline and acidic minerals which are drawn to charged poles inside the electrolysis chamber.
ER water is dispensed through one port of the unit and EO water is dispensed through another creating waters with pH, ORP and chlorine levels suitable for both cleansing and sanitizing. The hypochlorous acid generated (EO water) has been found to be significantly more efficacious for sterilizing surfaces and food than hypochlorite which is commonly used for this purpose.
ER water (alkaline ionized water) can be produced without the use of a catalyst so that it is suitable for consumption by both humans and animals. Farmers giving animals ER water have seen lower mortality rates in newborns, faster growth and higher production from animals. Overall health is also improved with lower morbidity rates.
Food Harvesting, Storage & Production
Of particular concern among organic farmers is effective sterilization of foods without the use of chemicals or preservatives. Current common methods of sterilization leave chlorine residue on produce while irradiation significantly reduces the nutritional value of foods.
The use of hypchlorous acid produced by commercial water ionizers has been proven more effective than chlorine for sterilization, has minimal impact on nutritional values of the food and leaves little or no trace residue.
Low production costs allow for frequent treatment of foods which prevents bacterial growth and also extends the shelf life. This allows larger quantities to be brought to market with less loss of quality during storage and transit, without the use of chemical preservatives or chlorine to maintain freshness and kill food-borne pathogens.
Equipment used to sort and process foods can be effectively cleaned with ER water, which has detergent properties. EO water can then be used to sterilize equipment and surfaces that come in contact with foods. Because the hypochlorous acid properties of EO water dissipate quickly, there is no residue left on equipment or surfaces. Hypochlorous acid has little or no effect on the taste of foods it comes in contact with.
Tests done to check bacteria levels in pipelines used in milking systems found the combination of electrolyzed reduced and electrolyzed oxidizing water were effective for cleaning and sanitizing equipment in place. In the test, a ten-minute wash with electrolyzed reduced water was followed by a ten-minute wash with electrolyzed oxidizing water.
All detectable bacteria was removed from non-porous milk contact surfaces. The levels of free chlorine found in the hypochlorous acid did not have the same adverse effects on stainless steel surfaces as seen with many traditional chemicals used for sanitizing these surfaces.
The non-toxic properties of the water as compared to traditional cleaning and sanitizing chemical cleaners allow for a healthier environment for workers. Lack of residual chlorine and fumes also maintains a healthier, less toxic environment for the animals.