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Dissolved oxygen crops up as solution for longer irrigation systems

Published:15 May 2015

Visiting Scholar from China Dr Hongjun Lei (front) with L-R Hayley Connor from ThinkWater, Guy Scott from Arris, and Dr Surya Bhattarai from CQUniversity.

A variety of crop types benefit from having extra oxygen delivered to plant roots via drip irrigation.

Irrigation water enhanced with oxygen can prevent oxygen-deprived soil conditions, increase yield and boost sugar levels in a number of crops.

CQUniversity leads studies in a number of crop trials of 'oxygation'; a plant’s ability to take advantage of additional oxygen in the sub-surface region.

However, with some irrigation systems running up to 1km in length, there has been a tendency for larger bubbles failing to reach the end of sub-surface drip systems.

With input from a Visiting Scholar from China, Dr Hongjun Lei, CQUniversity is now piloting a system whereby atmospheric air is transformed into 95% pure oxygen, with the use of an oxygen concentrator, and diffused into the irrigation water in a diffusion tower.

Dr Lei is an active oxygation researcher from the North China University of Water Conservancy and Electric Power.

He is now working with CQUniversity researcher Dr Surya Bhattarai, who has been constructing a pilot oxygen concentration system that delivers uniformity in distribution of oxygen in irrigation water and is able to be used on farms for large-scale drip irrigation.

"Growers can use atmospheric air and create oxygen which eliminates the requirement of repeated purchase and transporting it to the farm," he says. "With the higher dissolved oxygen concentration in irrigation water with this system, it will also open up opportunities for using oxygen rich water irrigation for flood and furrow irrigation systems.

VEK Environmental manufactures the oxygen concentration units utilising AirSep USA technology, and Arris is the Australian supplier for this product.

"Arris intends to collaborate and support in future research funding applications and field trials where use of oxygen-supercharged irrigation water is the theme," Dr Bhattarai says.