Water plays an essential role in healthy plant life. Sometimes though, water can contain organisms like viruses and bacteria (pathogens) that can negatively influence the growth of crops. Different ways of combating these organisms are used, like for example: chemical treatment, heating, UV disinfection and electro chemical activation. Of these methods, UV-C disinfection is used often because it achieves a very high rate of disinfection without minimal negative effects on water quality. This makes it the preferred method for disinfecting water used for growing crops and keeping them safe.
But how, and why does UV-C disinfection work so well, read on to learn more.
What is UV-C light?
Many people know UV light as the damaging radiation from the sun that is invisible to the naked eye and very harmful for organisms. The sun blasts large amounts of UV light towards the earth every second, but a large amount of it is blocked by our atmosphere. Luckily, the most harmful spectrum, UV-C, can’t reach us through the atmosphere. That’s exactly the reason that UV-C is so effective in combating bacteria and viruses. Through evolution they were able to arm themselves against UV-A and B but never against UV-C.
How does UV-C disinfection work?
When biological organism are exposed to UV-C light, the light is absorbed by their DNA and RNA. These parts, which contain the information for building the structure of the cell, are severely damaged by the C spectrum. With enough exposure, the genetic building blocks of the cell are damaged enough, that it is impossible for the cell to multiply, causing the bacteria or virus to die. An organism that can no longer reproduce eventually becomes inactive, disintegrates and disappears.
Because damaging the genetic information only requires a small UV dose, it’s not necessary to completely destroy them with intense amounts of light. This makes UV disinfection more attractive than other disinfection methods. The use of light instead of chemicals also ensures that the composition of the water remains the same and that minimal by-products or after-effects are left. In particular, the use of low pressure UV in the spectrum of 254 nm is very effective, which means that 99.99% of the organisms can be eliminated in a very energy efficient manner.
Why should you use UV-C for disinfecting water?
The unique effect UV-C light has on the building blocks of a cell, makes it a very effective and efficient way to disinfect water. There’s a reason that UV disinfection has been used for decades to produce safe drinking water. It is one of the most widely used methods for guaranteeing water safety in horticulture, without fear of spreading diseases.