Sustaining Water Resources in Agriculture Low Saline Groundwater — A New Water By Michael A. Champ, PhD

As droughts and water shortages have persisted, there is a need to test and evaluate low cost energy technologies that can treat low saline groundwater, or LSGW, in large enough volumes for use in irrigating crops. Some of the most promising research and development to date has been the use of high negative ion flux, along with static and variable low frequency and radio frequency electromagnetic fields to produce significant effects on water molecules, salt cations and organisms, distinguishing it from related technologies.

This area of research and development suffers from its association with low frequency electromagnetic fields; its cause and effects are considered pseudoscience by many scientists. Whereas, the real problem is lack of performance testing in paired field trials conducted by independent and qualified third parties with standardized testing protocols under a range of environmental conditions using treated and untreated (control) LSGW from 1,500 mg/l TDS to 9,000mg/l TDS.

In 2011, TransGlobal H2o, a Houston-based company, purchased a patent for an irrigation technology developed in the early 1990s and subsequently modernized TGH2o Optimizer T6 to develop scientific data for the validation of crop production benefits. Using TGH2o technologies to treat saline groundwater, the long- term goal was to validate a decade of farmer antidotal benefits and to optimize the technology for different crops, soils and environmental conditions.

Prior to this, over the past decade, tests with T4 units had demonstrated a reduction in corrosion and scale formation in irrigation pumps, pipes and sprayers, and maintenance, with increased pump water volumes and lower electricity use and improved crop production.

The theory by which the technology works is a two-step process, which first introduces a negative charge into irrigation water, similar to the effect of lightning in clouds. In the first step, the introduction of the negative charge increases hydrogen bonding of water molecules making the water more negative and increasing adhesion, cohesion and surface tension of these water molecules. This makes the irrigated soil stay wetter longer (i.e., the treated water evaporates slower because of increased hydrogen bonding) and therefore is more available for seed germination, plant growth and crop production.

Farmers have used the T4 technology over the past decade in California, Arizona and Texas to treat irrigation water for a wide range of crops (alfalfa, corn, cotton, organic strawberries, lettuce and spring mix, beans, tomatoes, sorghum, grapes and golf course grasses).

Michael A. Champ, PhD, has held senior positions in

academia, government and industry and is the senior scientist for TransGlobal H2o in Houston, Texas. This manuscript is from a presentation at the Irrigation International Conference held in Austin, Texas.

Buckeye, Arizona, Paired Field Trials With T4 Optimizer 7 days | seed germination

23 days | plant growth

62 days | density

The top right two seeds are from untreated rows. The bottom three seeds are from the treated rows. Notice faster (five to seven days) root hair development.

All photographs from the Buckeye, Arizona, Barley Study

18 Irrigation TODAY | October 2016

There is noticeable wetter soil and more seeds germinated in the treated rows (right), which in- dicates treated irrigation water stayed more than 36 hours longer in surface soils than untreated (left). This is due to increased hydrogen bonding, surface tension, adhesion and cohesion.

The treated rows (left) had faster plant growth (20 inches taller) and leafing out, with more seed germination (>5×/unit area) than the untreated plants (right).

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