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Water Quality and Crops

Improving Water Quality Can Yield a Better Crop

by Nancy Walery
San Diego County Farm Bureau 

Whether you grow flowers, nursery products, fruits, vegetables, or produce anything in which water is central to a great agricultural crop, you don’t want to settle for water quality that works against you and your production goals. But if you’re irrigating your crops with unadulterated H20 from the tap, chances are good you’re doing yourself and your ag products a disservice that’s resulting in reduced yields at harvest time.

Applied Membranes, Inc., a Vista-based designer, manufacturer and distributor of commercial, industrial and residential reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems and components, is the grower’s solution to water quality problems. A SDCFB Business Supporting Member since 2009 and in business since 1983, AMI has supplied standard and custom water filtration and purification systems and services to a wide range of customers, from residential households to Fortune 500 companies offering a broad range of applications including ultrapure, potable, dialysis, pharmaceutical, water recycling, seawater desalination, and more. Company owner Gil Dhawan has seen the proof that RO systems provide growers—even dairy farmers—with impressive improvements in yields.

“Anything the grower grows requires good quality water,” said Dhawan, who has worked in the field of membrane technology since 1972 and holds a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. “Many times, the grower’s water quality—whether from a well or from municipal sources, is not as good as it should be and could be a factor in not only the crop volume, but also product size, uniformity and overall quality.”

What reverse osmosis systems can do for agriculture is remove—or at least considerably reduce—the sodium chloride that is so prevalent in most water samples Dhawan analyzes. In addition, it can even out the variances in water quality that occur from municipal water that can come from mixed sources during different times of the year.

“Salt is a significant factor in agricultural situations because the high chloride levels reduce crop yields,” said Dhawan, who has authored dozens of technical articles on the subject of RO technology. “Our goal is to reduce that to minimal levels. But we don’t have to remove all of it; each crop has a different threshold limit for these compounds, so as long as we can bring the level below that threshold, there will be an improvement in the crop. After we conduct a detailed analysis of a customer’s water composition, we design their system around that data so that the system provides optimum water quality.”

Dhawan said that one of his first reverse osmosis systems sold in the agriculture sector went to a local orchid grower, and it completely changed the quality and consistency of his products. Even dairy farmers will see a marked improvement in milk production from cows who drink RO water, Dhawan said, citing a study by a New Mexico dairy farmer who is also a veterinarian from UC Davis. In that study, two different water bins were provided—one with regular tap water, the other—located farther away—with RO water. It was found that more animals would walk the longer distance to drink the RO water, and they drank more, which increased their milk production.

AMI membrane products are used in more than 100 countries around the worlds and are made in USA in facilities that have earned the ISO 9001:2015 certification, an international quality standard.

Another advantage to working with AMI is the technical expertise and robust parts inventory availability that comes with your system—not just when you buy it, but during the entire lifespan of your AMI equipment. Should you ever need a reanalysis of the effectiveness of your system due to changes in your water quality or other suspected problems, AMI stands ready with the technical expertise to make the proper adjustments quickly and accurately. A strong inventory control system assures that AMI never runs out of your specific filter replacement or other components, and the volume of parts movement ensures competitive pricing. The company, which carries a wide range of filters and housings manufactured under the AMI label, is also a large stocking distributor for many of the well-known brand-name filters.

“Most companies providing similar products and services are not as technically oriented as AMI to provide the critical analysis and customized recommendations the customer is looking for,” Dhawan said. “Over time, RO systems will likely need some kind of technical assistance. So, with our more technical business model, when our customers call looking for service and support, that’s when we will shine.”

Applied Membranes, Inc. is located at 2450 Business Park Dr., Vista, CA 92081 and can be reached at (760) 727-3711, toll free at (800) 321-9321. Also be sure to visit AMI’s comprehensive website at

San Diego County Farm Bureau has a strong roster of Business Supporting members dedicated to serving the local agriculture community. For a complete list of Business Supporting members and the services they provide, visit the San Diego County Farm Bureau website.

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