New multi-ion meter

Want more from your water-quality meter? Irish manufacturer CleanGrow has launched a few new tools to help make your operation run a little smoother. Each one covers the three Cs of many business investments: convenience, consistency and cost-effectiveness.

The CleanGrow multi-ion sensor was more Irish pluck than luck that gave Ciaran Long and Roy O’Mahony the idea for this groundbreaking ion sensor. The first of its kind on the market, the CleanGrow nutrient meter not only measures one ion, but can also measure five others at the same time. Ciaran said he and Roy founded the CleanGrow company 2 years ago as a way to support their interests in water quality and fertilisers. The company is based out of Cork, Ireland, but Ciaran has been living in San Francisco for the last 14 years.

As a plant scientist, Roy was able to use his knowledge to develop the CleanGrow multi-ion sensor, but neither he nor Ciaran, who has a background in finance and operation, knew how to introduce the product to the horticulture market.

“We were talking about various ideas and Roy mentioned Heiner Lieth’s book,” said Ciaran.

A professor of environmental horticulture for the University of California-Davis, Dr Lieth published a book called Soilless Culture in 2007. Since the professor’s office was close by, Ciaran decided to drive to Davis to talk to him about the CleanGrow product and ask his advice.

“We were very open with our ideas,” said Ciaran. “We just took feedback that we got from Professor Lieth and lots of other people, and based on that, worked out what would be the best approach.”

The CleanGrow product features the first-ever combination of a carbon nanotube-sensor with a multiple-ion meter. It’s a hand-held style, which most growers are familiar with, but instead of relying solely on pH or EC measurements to determine nutrient levels, the meter can measure up to six ions simultaneously from a total of 18 different nutrients.

There is a six-ion meter that measures Calcium, Chloride, Potassium, Sodium, Ammonium and Nitrogen; the four-ion probe can be any combination of these six ions. CleanGrow comes in a package that includes the meter, PC software that allows you to manage the sensor and extract saved data to upload into an Excel file, and access to a website where you can store your data and look at historical trends, including high and low values.

“It’s a product that I think the industry’s been waiting for,” said Dr Lieth, who has been the primary ‘tester’ of the CleanGrow sensor for his own growing and research.

“Largely because for nutrient management, there’s all this stabbing in the dark, and when we adjust nutrient regimes in the greenhouses on our crops, we invariably are doing it with information that’s 2 weeks old. So this product is one that really promises to change things,” he said.

The CleanGrow system was first unveiled at Horti Fair in 2010, when the sensor was nominated for the Innovation Award—the only non-Dutch company to earn a nomination. Ciaran and Roy will have a booth at this year’s Short Course where North American growers can see it for the first time.

“Growers can’t afford to send samples to labs constantly and even if they do, it takes a period of time to get that information back,” Ciaran explained. “It’s time and money, so people really want to be able to find out what’s going on with their nutrients constantly. Really, they’re limited to just measuring EC at the moment, which is kind of a crude representation of what’s going on with each nutrient. So we’re just giving them real-time access to some very powerful information that they can use to increase yield of their crops.”

“The reality is if a grower makes one serious mistake with nutrient management, it’s going to cost thousands of dollars,” said Dr Lieth. “So if this device can prevent one of those, it will have paid for itself.”

To see a video demonstration of how the CleanGrow multi-ion sensor works, visit the CleanGrow website.

For further information contact:
Roy O’Mahony, CleanGrow, No. 4 Euro Business Park, Little Island, Cork, Ireland
Ph: +353-21-4232000
Fax: +44-7944-100647