Cost Analysis of Using Recycled Water in Container Production: A Case Study of Southern New Jersey
DeVincentis, A.J.; Brumfield, R.G.; Gottlieb, P.; Johnson, J.R.
HortScience 50(8): 1196-1201
Management of agricultural irrigation water is extremely important as fresh water resources are being depleted on a global scale. In anticipation of regulatory restrictions, several greenhouse and nursery operations in New Jersey have implemented systems that disinfect and recycle their irrigation water. This study compared the disinfection methods at two greenhouses and three container nurseries, focusing on the qualitative and quantitative benefits of using chlorine gas, ultraviolet light, ozone, and copper for water disinfection. The data were collected during on-site visits where the growers were interviewed on camera. A cost analysis was performed, but the most efficient disinfection technique could not be determined due to the variability between businesses and various unquantifiable benefits of proactive water management recycling, such as improved plant health, decreased fungicide and fertilizer use, a cleaner operation, reduced runoff, reduced pressure on aquifers, and increased customer satisfaction. The investment and maintenance costs per hectare and 1000 L were calculated, which can be useful reference tools for growers. The net present value (NPV) of each disinfection system was calculated to analyze the profitability of the investments. All three container nurseries had positive NPV values and profitable investments, which improved with cost sharing from the National Resource Conservation Service. This information will be useful in the future as growers throughout the state, and country, may be required to deal with the stricter regulation of their irrigation runoff.