Water tests, treating for high iron, etc

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by ClissAT, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    As with my soil, the dam water is also extremely high in undesirable minerals that make gardening difficult to say the least!

    The general outcome of the May'18 water tests are that the iron, manganese, sulphur & coliforms are extremely high & that was a good bit of water from the fresh run off, not the end of summer water that is really horrible.

    There are many ways to get those minerals out of the water, none of them very easy & all rather expensive unless the quantities of treated water are very small.

    Oxidation is generally accepted as the friendliest way to do it but when treating a whole dam, the machine is big & expensive.
    Injection of chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, Condy'd crystals (potassium permanganate) or water softeners all work depending on what state the minerals are present in (how the molecules are arranged).

    There are also experimental methods such as magnetism to break the molecules apart or ozone to hyper oxygenate & sterilize the water.

    AndrewB provided some links found when he investigated this water issue.
    http://www.purewaterproducts.com/articles/treating-manganese-in-well-water




    My daily usage during the dry season for the whole of my orchard, garden & stock water needs can be over 5000lt daily which means I need a fairly big household or small farm system but nowhere near as big as one for a small town. So I fall inbetween a small house well system say for a swimming pool & a big system for a small town. So I have struggled to find a professional who wants to work with such requirements. Either they don't want to upsize a small system or downsize a large system.
    If I wanted to expand to growing small crops, I need to get the garden water working properly first.
    I have 2x 5000lt tanks (1x settling/treatment tank & 1x clean water storage tank) plumbed to 2 electric pumps & also with a high volume bilge pump in the settling tank I can transfer the cleaned water to the storage tank in under an hour. That bilge pump can also be used to circulate the dirty water in the settling/treatment tank, then suck out the cleared precipitated water from the settling tank into the clean water storage tank. Then it can suck out the dirty water from the bottom of the settling tank & send it down the paddock.
    I was hoping the agronomist would be able to work through the process of developing the recipe & correct method to clean my dam water. But he was just interested to sell me an experimental method that was very expensive.
    So I am left with no alternative but to use trial & error to work it out for myself.

    So far I have found that without extra oxygenation, the use of Condy's crystals doesn't work.
    Today I hope to buy some chlorine from the pool shop & try that. I really didn't want to use chemicals but at this stage with winter & the dry season now firmly upon my property, it is imperative that I find some way to clean this water before the soil dries out too much.

    I also have plans for a floating oxygenator but it will be a bit expensive & take a few months to build & also I cant install it on the dam until summer due to how cold the water is at this time of year. Last thing I want to do is swim for hours in freezing water!
    It is built with aluminium, solar panels, blue plastic drums for floatation & rusty corrugated iron that has 100's of sharp holes punched into it to create disturbance to the cascading water flowing from the pipe running across the top of the iron sheets.. The pump is a high volume 12v marine bilge pump that runs directly off the solar panels during daylight. It will be anchored in the middle of the dam.

    dam water oxygenator diagram 1000x.jpg

    Here are my water test results for those who want to know the technicalities:-

    water analysis page 1.jpg water analysis page 2.jpg water analysis page 3.jpg

    The test company also provided a 34page PDF on water treatment but I cant turn it into a link from their website. I'll keep trying because it does contain useful info.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Here are 2 pH charts showing slightly different things.
    The first chart shows where the bad minerals that I have in my water are most accessible by plants.

    pH chart 1.jpg

    This second chart shows what happens to the soil when these minerals are present & accessible to plants.

    pH chart 4.jpg


    By making my water very alkaline as well as the soil the plants grow in, I can reduce the effects of the undesirable minerals, but I will have to add lots of trace elements. The bad minerals will still be there when applied to the soil in the water & gradually build to toxic levels.

    I realize this has already happened in new garden beds I started where for the first 2 crops the plants grew very well although I did have to add more & more fertilizer, then the 3rd crop planted in those beds failed badly.
    I can make (as I have previously done) very alkaline compost by using a huge amount of green waste from my ornamental garden & tree prunings put through the chipper & added to horse manure. When this is applied to 'virgin' soil, the beds are quite alkaline yet most vegetables will grow & fruit reasonably well & be fairly healthy & free of insects & disease. I have to keep adding lots of compost because the soil is hungry.
    All this means a lot of hard manual work for me which is something I cant do these days. Hence the need for permanent help from a live-in person.

    The alternative is to treat the water so I can use existing garden beds. There are also the 40+ fruit trees to consider since they cant be replaced every few years. Their growing sites would become polluted with the minerals also & require larger & larger volumes of fertilizer until they failed or it became financially stupid to continue down that track.
     
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  3. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow you have certainly put in a lot of research and effort into sorting your water out. I take my hat of to you for persisting and trying to find a solution. Lots of hard work, I really hope you find a solution that works for you. Often we get these professionals in to give their opinion, do the work etc when in the end you are the best person who knows your situation and what works best for you.
     
  4. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So what you need is something that will use up the excess iron & manganese in your soils so they don't reach toxic levels for the other plants. Maybe something like soy beans?
    http://wolftrax.com/soybeans-yield-manganese-iron-fertilizer/

    Do the springs on the other properties around yours have the same issue? If not, could you drill a bore & bring water up from the water table?
     
  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Soybeans would be a great toxicity distributor if something here would eat them once they grow because I couldn't make compost with the plants or I would release the minerals back into the soil.
    But apparently they should not be fed to horses & those in the know of the science of soy will say not to feed them to chooks. Its to do with the hormone disturbance the soy creates.

    My current garden & orchard is spread out over the 1.5ac houseyard which is what I inherited from the previous owners. The buildings are quite spread out & now with the shed going in, even more spread out. Over the years I have reduced the number & size of the gardens quite a lot. For example, there are over 40 trees in the current orchard alone.
    Also if I want to have a market garden I will effectively be adding up to 5ac more to that spread out garden.

    Growing such a sprawling plant that soy is, under every tree & in every bed & every flower garden is not practical. But it can be done in some parts for sure. Because I am not only focused on healthy water for animals & vegetable growing, but also for my flower beds, ornamental beds & shrubs.

    As for the ground water, I wish there was some!

    I don't understand how these springs are able to exist or where they are fed from. The hydraulic pressure from substrates lower down the ridge is obviously having a bearing on the water movement.
    As far as I know there are no bores or wells in this whole neighbourhood.
    But I only see it on my property after massive rain when the water oozes out of the ground from the top of the ridge & seeps across the ground.
    I would say that all the ground water around here will be polluted with the same minerals. This area & the hills behind here had lots of small one man manganese & probably tin mines many years ago as well as other minerals.
    There used to be gold under this whole region but it is all mined out now.
    There are some rock substrates including a marble-like quartz layer that had the gold under it, an almost white ball clay layer & apparently a weak granite layer. The impoverished top soil here is only 10cm thick with yellow crumbly clayish vermiculite-like schist below that, from 2m-20m thick. The schist can stay completely dry even through extreme wet seasons so I don't know how the rain water gets in under it to ooze back out the top of it. I guess there would be water between the lower layers but it would be expensive to get it out.
     
  6. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Possible boutique market for edamame for local Japanese restaurant? (sold on the stem!!)
     
  7. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    You'll have to enlighten me further, Oskar!
     
  8. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oh yum...Only seem to be found in Japanese restaurants as nibbles or bar snacks...or a little share plate for entree. They have to be cooked (for reasons you mention above) - but edamame are the immature beans, usually blanched in salt water and served in their pod (which you don't eat). You just squeeze the beans out into your mouth. Someone might know more about it, but I think the literal translation is something like "stem bean". Hence I wondered if you could get rid of the beans and their stem...and not have to mulch them. Generally you wouldn't eat enough to cause any health issues, and there's still some debate about the phytoestrogens...got any Japanese restaurants locally? There's a surprising number of smaller farms directly supplying custom ingredients to restaurants...could be a win:win?
     
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