As a renowned plantsman with a lifetime in the horticulture trade, Brian Humphrey OBE knows the importance of ensuring a consistent supply of water to keep plants healthy.
He and his wife Julie live on a 6.5 acre plot in Suffolk containing many plants including Magnolias, Cornus and Japanese maples, most of which have been propagated in the nursery.
The couple moved there in 1986, setting up their own commercial nursery operation to supply nurseries across the U.K.
Brian’s speciality is tree grafting – he is the author of The Bench Grafter’s Handbook: Principles and Practice – a skill he learnt from a “brilliant grafter knifesman” when working at Hilliers in his 20s. At the time, Hilliers commercially grew the widest range of temperate woody plants in the world.
A move to Notcutts, based in Woodbridge, Suffolk, then followed and he is especially proud of the work he did with Charles Notcutt OBE, the third generation of the Notcutt family to run the business.
A well-known horticulturalist and, like Brian a holder of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour, Charles travelled to New Zealand and brought back what was then a rare and spectacular Black Tulip magnolia.
Brian’s grafting expertise turned 50 ‘mother plants’ into 500, a programme he continued after setting up his own operation. He estimates that over a three-year period, some 10,000 Black Tulip magnolia plants were produced, and the variety is still available today.
Magnolia trees – including Black Tulip and Felix Jury, described by Brian as `the finest Magnolia hybrid raised`- make a considerable contribution to the stock plant / garden area.
Of particular interest, are the banks of rhododendrons which make for an impressive late spring vista full of colour, from the deepest reds and mauves to whites and creams. Many of the plants have been propagated by Brian on the Cunninghams White rootstock, and their network of contacts has seen regular exchanges of plant material over the years from such prestigious locations at RHS Wisley and Savill Gardens in Windsor.
Brian knows that without consistent quantity of water supplies neither the nursery or stock plant area could be successful. He attributes his understanding of boreholes to his time at Notcutts, where he was tasked with overseeing water supplies for the nursery.
|Product:||BoreSaver Ultra C Pro, BoreSaver Multikleen|
|Project Description:||Clean and treatment programme for a nursery garden borehole|
|Keywords:||BoreSaver Ultra C, BoreSaver, iron related bacteria, IRB, airlift, brush and clean, Treewaters, Geoquip|
“Routine BoreSaver treatment keeps the borehole going throughout the season, which is invaluable for the plants”Brian Humphrey, said:
He explains: “The Suffolk area has the lowest rainfall in the country and Notcutts was the first time I really got involved in understanding the importance of boreholes, water extraction and the need to calculate how much water was needed for the plants.
“When we set up our own commercial nursery, I knew we needed an additional water supply and, thanks to a small inheritance from an aunt, we had just enough money to sink a borehole and implement our own irrigation system.”
Situated at the top end of the property near the commercial polytunnels, the borehole supplies water via an electronically controlled manifold system and 2″ pvc ring main water to all parts of the area.
After a few years however, Brian found that due to the high iron content in the borehole water, the yield was gradually decreasing as residue built up and blocked the pump and pipes. Water that did come out was orange-coloured due to the iron and also impacted on the young plants.
“We were warned about the iron in the water and as it got worse the water extraction dropped off,” said Brian. “I bought two or three new pumps, which was pretty expensive, and I would still find that water quantities would fall off halfway through the season, so I needed to do something else.”
Brian turned to the company which originally installed the borehole and was put in touch with Ipswich-based Geoquip Water Solutions, specialists in borehole maintenance.
Having carried out an initial assessment, the Geoquip team recommended applications of its BoreSaver water treatment solution, which is designed to tackle iron-related bacteria.
Geoquip worked with Brian to set up a series of treatment protocols and, while this ensures the necessary yield was maintained, from time to time the borehole also requires a full-scale clean.
Bryn Ager, from Treewaters Control Systems, who works alongside Geoquip, was called in to carry out the cleaning process, having carried out a prior camera survey. The new clean included removing the pumping equipment and completing an airlift, brush and clean to remove sediment and sludge before once again replacing the pump.
Bryn says: “The borehole had been in place for a long time and, because of the high iron content, every few years it needs a full clean to support the treatment programme. By combining BoreSaver Ultra C Pro with BoreSaver Multikleen, using the airlift to get rid of the debris and carrying out a surging and brushing process we were able to ensure both the borehole and the screen were clean as well.
“At the start of the process we took pH tests to establish the natural pH of the groundwater and during the treatment we carried out regular tests to determine the chemical levels, making sure at the end that the groundwater was back to normal.
“I’m pleased to say that Brian is very happy with the results we are able to achieve.”
Having both a regular cleaning and treatment programme means borehole yield is maintained at around 25-30 litres a minute throughout the April – September period. Without it yield typically falls substantially, requiring much longer periods of abstraction and therefore cost to maintain sufficient water to enable overnight watering.
Brian concluded: “I was very impressed with both Bryn’s hard work and with the Geoquip team. Mike Deed really takes the trouble to look after his customers, even to the extent of sourcing spare parts for the manifold and he has taken a real personal interest in the enterprise which has been a real help.
“Having the routine BoreSaver treatment keeps the borehole going throughout the season, which is invaluable for the plants – we couldn’t look after them without the irrigation system.”
BoreSaver is designed to tackle problems such as iron-related bacteria, iron manganese and calcium carbonate and, as well as being completely biodegradable, the solution contains a marker which gives an instant all clear to demonstrate any remaining chemical residue has been removed.
For more details on the BoreSaver range of treatments, please visit https://www.geoquipwatersolutions.com/boresaver.html
Photos: Alison Dewar (Straight PR) and Treewaters Control Systems