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A large established fruit grower contacted Kirton to assist at one of their farms in the South of England. The farm’s irrigation system was longstanding and functional but technically outmoded, the majority of the irrigation water came from untreated borehole or rainwater lagoons. Fruit growing techniques have experienced rapid development over the last several years and significant investment has been expended researching various crop enhancement methods. Feed water quality along with mineral content plays a crucial role in the realisation of fruit crops both in the size and superiority of the fruit. Certain fruits flourish being irrigated with water containing various minerals, whereas other fruit may suffer underdeveloped growth or even crop failure. Kirton were commissioned to advise what could be achieved using the farm’s current available water sources without solely relying upon towns mains water.

We recommended the installation of a turnkey water treatment system designed around the tight parameters required to achieve successful fruit crops season after season. To satisfy the differing feedwater requirements of various fruit, we decided the correct solution would be via reverse osmosis. This technology removes all minerals from the water giving the operators a blank canvas from which to blend. Appropriate minerals can then be added to individual feed streams depending on what type of fruit is being cropped. Given that a portion of the feedwater was from a lagoon, the first stage of treatment had to be turbidity-controlled media filtration. This is a particulate filtration technique required to make water suitable for reverse osmosis feed supply. The reverse osmosis system produces around 50,000 litres per hour of water with a conductivity of less than 30 micro siemens. This is stored adjacent to the plant then pumped through the farm’s distribution network to local storage tanks where the relevant minerals are re-introduced into the water. Given the high cost of reverse osmosis membranes, we protected the system with a high specification turbidity monitor so in the event of the feed water quality failing, the system diverts the water away from the reverse osmosis plant.

The successful installation of our equipment has allowed our client to thrive using water from their own sources without resorting to costly mains water. Future proofing their operations has also provided the combined benefit of a more profitable fruit harvest, and a substantial reduction in their environmental footprint.


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