“Our goal was to get better and more reliable water quality and to save costs at the same time”, Rob Letcher, Managing Director De Ruiter East Africa. As rainwater is limited and drilling a borehole prohibited, they were depended on the lake. However, “even though the lake is often of good quality, it is not safe to use because of contamination like: nematodes, algae, bacteria, fungi and viruses.” For these reasons they decided to go for water recycling. “On top of that, it saves costs and is much better for the environment.”
Looking for a solution
De Ruiter East Africa’s Production manager Fred Okinda: “Water quality is a basic need to grow a good and healthy crop. Rainwater and Reversed Osmosis water have the best quality. Rainwater is limited and drilling a borehole was prohibited. As a result of that we looked for other options. Royal De Ruiter Innovations in the Netherlands has a long term working relationship with Mienis Water, one of the oldest membrane technology firms in the world. And they presented us the solution in which we invested.
The solution Mienis Water proposed was an Ultrafiltration system that is capable to treat their lake water as well as their drain water. “It removes all nematodes, algae, bacteria, fungi and viruses but recycles all fertilizers. Within weeks we had the first results. The roses where longer and the plants stronger and healthier. This was better than we had hoped for because we can already see extra savings like cleaner drain linens, saving on labour and acid. We also expect savings on our chemicals because of the healthier crop and less contamination but this is too soon to conclude that.”
Rob Letcher continues: “The market requests a greener approach and De Ruiter East Africa subscribes to this and wants to be a leading example. Recycling fertilizers makes it possible to have a 100% closed water system. Although we are not there yet, we are very close and determined to get there.”
The solution also seems to be very cost efficient. “First of all, it is cheaper than alternative treatments like: UV, heating and similar systems. But especially the savings on fertilizers, labour, acid and chemicals bring us an expected ROI within one year”, says Letcher.
If in time the lake water quality deteriorates, Mienis Water can place a module behind their system and treat the water to any required quality. “This makes it a flexible and perfect solution for us.”