WESTERN PRODUCER —Western Canadian livestock producers and greenhouse operators are talking about the added benefits of using electrolyzed water.
Electrolyzed water, also known as anolyte, is created when a generator uses an electrolyzer (cell) to electrically activate a common salt solution. A diaphragm separates it into two chambers (positive anode chamber and negative cathode chamber), each having an electrode. A direct electrical current passes through the solution yielding hypochlorous acid (anolyte) out of the positive chamber and sodium hydroxide (catholyte) out of the negative chamber.
The resulting water solutions can be used as a disinfectant/oxidizer, and applied as fog, mist or spray. Anolyte is also added to drinking water and kills many viruses and bacteria. It is commonly used commercially for cleaning and preserving produce and disinfecting in health-care environments.
OmniLyte Enviro Inc., headquartered in Manitoba, designs, supplies, and installs water treatment equipment and Envirolyte ECA generators needed for agricultural operators to produce electrolyzed water.
Brock MacKenzie, who owns Darian Farms, a dairy farm near Regina with an average milking herd of 320 Holsteins, said poor water quality seriously impacted the business he bought in 2007. The high percentage of iron and manganese in the farm’s water was causing rapid mineral build-up in hot water tanks and pipes that required frequent flushing and line scaling. The manganese also had a negative health impact on his dairy herd.
“We had lots of reproductive problems,” MacKenzie said. “We did a gamut of tests on the cows.”
He tried giving mineral packs to his cattle, but this did not solve the problem.
“None of the minerals were getting to the cows’ blood. It was almost borderline untreatable,” he said.
In desperation, he began buying and trucking in water from Regina for his animals. This change had a positive effect as his cows drank more and their milk production rose. He cut back on mineral supplements for the cattle and the cows experienced fewer reproductive health issues. These changes made him aware of how good water quality is essential for his herd.
In 2019, MacKenzie saw an OmniLyte Electrolyzed Water System operating in a neighbour’s broiling barn and decided to invest in one. He said the water system efficiently oxidizes and precipitates iron and manganese before filtration, followed by reverse osmosis to blend in the filtered water into the remaining water going to his water distribution tank storage.
He was surprised and pleased when the electrolyzed water cleared out the mineral build-up in the dairy’s pipes within three months.
He said the water also positively affected his breeding heifers and young calves.
“They have better weight gain; they’re healthier animals,” he said.
The overall fat content of the milk has increased from one kilogram of fat per head per day to 1.6 kilograms.
“It’s unbelievable,” he added.
MacKenzie also uses electrolyzed water as a disinfectant in his dairy barn. He said he regrets not installing a higher capacity OmniLyte system so he could also use the electrolyzed water for pipeline flushes.
“We were very skeptical about putting it in, but now we know,” he said.
Working in Horizon Colony’s hog and turkey operations near Winkler, Man., Steve Hofer agreed with MacKenzie’s assessment of electrolyzed water’s ability to disinfect and clean water lines and enhance animal health.
“Our pig mortality almost dropped in half. We switched away completely from using drugs,” Hofer said.
Hofer has calculated that not having to pay for medications and the improvement in the mortality rate helped cover the cost of the OmniLyte system’s purchase within a year.
“The most important product we give to our animals is water. They are getting clean water now,” he added.
Hofer said that he and other colony members also regularly use electrolyzed water to disinfect the barns. It is a highly effective way of killing viruses, salmonella, and E. coli bacteria, while being safe for humans, especially those who do the cleaning.
Although the electrolyzed water carries a slight smell of sodium hypochlorite, Hofer said it is safe for people to drink.
Willowcreek colony member Dale Hofer, who’s in charge of a greenhouse near Cartwright, Man., said that the cucumbers and tomatoes he grows have been healthier since an electrolyzed water system was installed.
“I had started to test my water to figure out why my plants weren’t thriving,” he said.
He decided to try using electrolyzed water from a system installed in the colony’s pig barn and found out that it made a significant difference in plant health. He also cut out chemicals he used for cleaning the greenhouse by substituting electrolyzed water as a disinfectant.
“My wife started using it in the greenhouse for flowers. She noticed that the seedlings’ growth improved. Plants get a running start in life and become stronger as the plants establish a better root system,.” Hofer said.
“It’s an investment.”