This week at Horti Fair in The Netherlands, the horticulture industry's premier tradeshow, CleanGrow will introduce its breakthrough multi-ion measurement solution capable of analyzing up to six ions simultaneously.
The product combines a carbon nanotube-based sensor with a multi-ion meter for on-site measurements and real-time feedback. Currently optimized for horticultural applications, the easy-to-use instrument is also a natural fit for other applications where existing sensor technology falls short of meeting complex measuring requirements. For growers, it offers a "lab-in-hand" solution -- a quick and affordable way to maintain the proper nutrient balance required for better yield, improved flavor and color, greater disease resistance and longer shelf life. Early users include research institutes and commercial vegetable greenhouses.
The new CleanGrow product is one of ten shortlisted by Horti Fair for this year's prestigious Innovation Award.
Controlling the concentration of nutrients in liquids is a vital step in the fertigation process. Today, nutrient levels are tested daily, most commonly by measuring pH and EC, and dispatching samples to offsite labs for analysis. This traditional testing protocol is time-consuming and costly, and delays access to information on potential yield-threatening nutrient levels. Moreover, with testing largely limited to pH and EC levels, growers receive only a crude representation of nutrient levels. In contrast, the CleanGrow solution offers a new class of technology that greatly broadens the range of testing options. Now, for the first time, growers can get the comprehensive information they need when they need it to ensure the optimal nutrient balance.
According to Professor Heiner Lieth, a crop ecology expert at the University of California, Davis, "There are numerous opportunities in soilless horticulture for advances in 'precision agriculture.' The development of advanced sensor technologies, in conjunction with simultaneous control and optimization of moisture and nutrients, for example, has the potential to drive production to efficiencies never seen before, resulting in improved yields and a superior product. Developments in this technology, such as CleanGrow's innovation, may play a key role in averting global food shortages in the future."
The CleanGrow multi-ion sensor is available in two probe configurations. One is capable of measuring up to six essential ions simultaneously while the other can measure up to four. The standard six-ion probe can measure ammonium, calcium, chloride, potassium, sodium, and nitrate. The four-ion probe measures ammonium, calcium, chloride and potassium. Probes can be ordered to measure a combination of up to six of a wide range of ions. These include: ammonium, barium, bromide, cadmium, calcium, cyanide, chloride, copper, fluoride, iodide, nitrate, nitrite, perchlorate, pH, potassium, silver, sodium and sulphide. CleanGrow also offers a single-ion sensor.
The multi-ion sensor is reliable over a wide range of ion concentrations (0.05 to 60,000 ppm, depending on the ion), and across a broad temperature range (5 to 50ºC). The probe is only 180mm long and no more than 16mm wide. The meter weighs just 500g and is totally portable with a battery life of 100 hours of continuous use. Set-up and calibration are easily accomplished using the accompanying menu-driven PC software and by following the step-by-step instructions on the hand-held device. The user can easily set acceptable tracking and measurement ranges, and expanded reporting capabilities make it easy to review and compare past data.
"The demand for ion-sensing technology has created a billion-dollar-plus market, and one that is expected to grow by approximately 40 percent in the next five years," said Ciaran Long, CleanGrow's Co-founder and CEO. "Our multi-ion sensor leverages new technology to deliver a vastly superior solution to what has traditionally been available. It also opens new markets in a variety of industries where traditional sensor technology can't meet stringent new application demands. While reducing the grower's costs and labor, it delivers a previously unavailable depth of useful information, in real time. This helps optimize yields while enabling real-time recirculation of fertigation liquids."