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Completed project

Improving safety of vegetable produce through on-farm sanitation, using electrolysed oxidising (EO) water (VG15068)

Key research provider: University of South Australia
Publication date: Thursday, July 30, 2020

What was it all about?

This investment, which ran from 2017 to 2020, tested whether electrolysed oxidising or ‘EO’ water can be used to increase the quality of vegetable irrigation water. It found that under certain conditions the technology can be used to reduce microbial contamination, and therefore enhance the safety of fresh produce.

The key findings from the research were:

  • EO water compared favourably against other chlorine-based disinfection options for treating irrigation water contaminated by relevant water-borne pathogens.
  • EO water treatment was effective within the normal range of irrigation water pH.
  • The presence of organic matter (such as manure) reduced the efficacy of EO water treatment but increasing the concentration of EO water is effective at combatting this.
  • Single applications of high concentration EO water or long-term application of lower concentration EO water were not detrimental to lettuce or spinach plants and resulted in substantially reduced microbial load on treated plant leaves.
  • Long-term application of EO water resulted in no or minimal change in soil properties (such as pH or electrical conductivity) for all soils tested. In comparison, irrigation with sodium hypochlorite had significant effects on pH for the majority of soils tested.


You can read more about this electricity-charged sanitisation approach, and how it could benefit the Australian vegetable industry, in this news article from Hort Innovation that was released when the project was first announced in 2017.

Related levy funds

This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund