Modified Delphi Survey on Key Attributes for Selection of Water-treatment Technologies for Horticulture Irrigation Academic Article uri icon


  • A wide range of water-treatment technologies is used to control waterborne microbial problems in greenhouse and nursery irrigation. An online modified Delphi survey was carried out to identify the perceived key attributes that growers should consider when selecting among water-treatment technologies and to characterize a list of 14 technologies based on those same attributes. The expert panel consisted of ornamental plant growers (n = 43), water-treatment industry suppliers (n = 28), and research and extension faculty (n = 34). The survey was delivered to the expert panel in two rounds. Response rate was 59% and 60% for the first and second rounds, respectively. Growers identified control of plant disease, algae, and biofilm as primary reasons for adopting technologies, whereas mandatory regulation was not a major reason for adoption. All 23 attributes (related to cost, system size, control of microorganisms, chemistry, ease of use, and regulation) were perceived to be important when selecting between water-treatment technologies. Injectable sanitizing chemicals such as chlorination were considered to have low capital cost, unlike technologies that required installation of more complex equipment, such as heat treatment, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, reverse osmosis, or ultraviolet radiation. Filtration (excluding membrane filtration) was the only technology not perceived to be effective to control microorganisms. Filtration and copper were not considered effective to control human food-safety pathogens. Ozone was rated the highest as a technology that removes or oxidizes agrochemicals. Chemical water treatments, as opposed to physical water treatments, were perceived to be sensitive to water quality parameters and to have residual effect through the irrigation. Chlorine gas was perceived to be the only technology for which regulatory permission would be an obstacle. All technologies were perceived to be effective in water with low electrical conductivity (EC) or in solutions containing water-soluble fertilizers. This survey documents perceived attributes of water-treatment technologies, which are most useful where experimental data are not yet available. Research and outreach needs were highlighted by cases where perceived attributes differed from available experimental data or where there was a lack of consensus between experts.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Raudales, R. E., Irani, T. A., Hall, C. R., & Fisher, P. R.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Raudales, Rosa E||Irani, Tracy A||Hall, Charles R||Fisher, Paul R

publication date

  • June 2014