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grapesReclaimed wastewater - domestic wastewater that has been filtered, treated and disinfected - is healthier for vines than fresh mains water according to a new study by The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). They found that soil irrigated with reclaimed water had fewer harmful pathogens and higher microbial activity than soil watered with mains water in a McLaren Vale vineyard.

“Not only is reclaimed water a sustainable source, but viticulturists can use less fertiliser - higher levels of microbes improve the transfer of nutrients to the vines,” said lead scientist Dr Belinda Rawnsley.

harvest grapesReclaimed waste water, or greywater as it is more commonly known in the UK, is water that's first been used for washing. Washing leaves behind soap residue which tends to make the water alkaline (having a pH above neutral tap water's 7). Alkaline water helps soil to:

  • set free elements needed for healthy plant growth

  • helps breaks up heavy clay soil

  • discourages soil diseases (particularly club root, the bane of brassicas)

  • discourages pests (slugs, leatherjackets and wireworms all hate alkaline conditions)

As well as your grapevines, your carnations, wallflowers, delphiniums, cabbages and Brussel sprouts will all enjoy greywater.

PG wateringDon't water your lettuce or herbs with groundwater though. As greywater can contain disease-causing pathogens you don't want to water it onto crops you'll eat raw or lightly cook. These harmful pathogens can however be easily removed by first filtering the water through a sand bed and then disinfecting the water with bleach. For more information visit Renewable Energy UK