Questions with Eric Smith

Questions with Eric Smith

Advertorial - Ask the Experts: Sanitation

National Sales Manager at BioSafe Systems explains how sanitation is crucial when reusing pots and trays.

November 3, 2021

Are you getting an uptick in questions from growers about reusing pots and trays?

We are hearing from greenhouse and nursery growers about this, in part because of container supply issues. Whether it’s propagation trays or 1s, 3s or 7s, for example, they’re more difficult to come by right now. With availability being limited, growers are considering other options, and reusing containers is a viable option.

What should growers understand about reusing pots and trays?

For best results, it’s a two-step process. First and foremost, make sure pots and trays are cleaned well prior to sanitation. Removing organic matter first will allow for better results from your sanitizing product.

Spraying pots with a water hose will not remove all organic matter because some of it is unseen. It’s best to use an alkaline cleaner. BioSafe Systems’ GreenClean® Alkaline Cleaner is an industrial strength soap designed for removing organic material and is ideal for use on pots and trays. This can be a simple process. Think about what you might see in a restaurant with a triple sink. You can do something similar at your nursery or greenhouse with large tubs or troughs. One tub is for the cleaner, the next one is for rinsing, and the third one is for disinfecting.

If you have a large operation, you can accomplish the same system with vats.

In some instances, you can put cleaner in a hose-end sprayer and spray the pots.

When it comes to sanitizing, look for a no-rinse product like SaniDate® 5.0 to save time, water, and labor, which ultimately saves money.

This two-step process of cleaning before disinfecting is more effective than steam sterilization and is better than using chlorine. While chlorine is readily available, it must be rinsed and can be tough on surfaces, and cause worker safety hazards.

Which pathogens could be problematic if this two-step cleaning and disinfecting process wasn’t followed?

Soil-borne disease and fungal pathogens can survive in seen and unseen organic matter and on used containers, which is why it’s critical to follow the two-step process. Without it, growers could have problems with Thielaviopsis (black root rot), Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, or Sclerotinia.

Photo courtesy of biosafe; adobe stock

What are some other benefits of these products?

Worker safety is a crucial component of any facility. GreenClean Alkaline Cleaner and SaniDate 5.0 provide ideal chemistries for workers. There is no REI, which speaks to worker safety and efficiency. When using GreenClean Alkaline Cleaner in conjunction with SaniDate 5.0, there are no stringent rules regarding timing. In other words, if your crew does the cleaning step first, they can stop and take care of other tasks and come back to the disinfection step later in the day or even later in the week.

Pots can be used 10 minutes after applying SaniDate 5.0. By the time you stack them on a pallet or move them to another section of the nursery, it’s likely that enough time has elapsed, and those pots can be immediately put into production.

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