A University of Georgia scientist has found an environmentallyfriendly product nurserymen can use to kill plant diseases.What is it?Water.But this fungus-killing water doesn’t flow from just any faucet.It’s electrolyzed water created by a machine that combines water,electricity and a salt solution that enhances the water’s properties.The water-and-salt solution flows through a machine calledan electrolyzed oxidizing water unit. The result is two typesof water: one very acidic and one highly alkaline.”I’ve tried the acidic electrolyzed water on everythingfrom begonias to geraniums,” said James Buck, a plant pathologistworking in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”It’s very safe for the plants. And it kills fungi in a matterof seconds.”Hundredsof ornamental plants are grown in nurseries across the Southeast.And nurserymen constantly fight to control diseases that reducetheir plant yields.”Typically, in just one year, 10 percent of the crop willbe lost to plant diseases,” Buck said.To test the effectiveness of the electrolyzed water, Buck selectedtwo diseases to work with: powdery mildew and gray mold.”In a greenhouse operation, you’re going to have thesetwo diseases,” Buck said. “They’re foliar fungi thatattack the leaves and flowers of plants.”Buck applied the electrolyzed water as a spray and found itkilled fungi much faster than traditional fungicides.”We’re not trying to replace fungicides,” he said.”But we are looking for alternatives and additional toolsfor growers to use. On top of its effectiveness, the electrolyzedwater is also environmentally friendly.”The water kills bacteria and fungi almost immediately. Butit loses its properties over time. “That’s another reasonit would be a popular choice,” he said.Buck expanded his tests to include 25 fungi. And each timethe electrolyzed water killed the fungus in “usually 10 to30 seconds.”Over the next two years, he plans to broaden his research intoelectrolyzed water’s use as a contact fungicide. He’ll do so withthe help of a $123,000 Pest Management Alternatives grant fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture.He now plans to find out how much and how often the water shouldbe sprayed, which ornamentals it works best on and how its costcompares to that of traditional fungicides.Buck’s research may lead to EO water replacing or reducingthe use of chemical fungicides in commercial greenhouses.”The electrolyzed oxidizing water unit won’t be an affordableoption for mom-and-pop nurseries,” he said. “But largenursery operators should find the cost well worth the benefit.”For the past four years, CAES food scientists have been usingthe electrolyzed water to kill bacteria on food and sanitize surfacesand equipment used in food preparation.”We’re focusing on finding safe, effective, economicaland practical means of controlling food-borne pathogens as foodmoves from the farm, through postharvest operations and onto thetable at home,” said Yen-Con Hung, a CAES food scientist.”EO water has many applications,” he said, “fromnonthermal food washing and sanitization to water treatment andgeneral household cleaning applications.”Hung has tested electrolyzed water’s effectiveness for controllingfood-borne pathogens on plastic kitchen cutting boards, freshpoultry and lettuce.”This water drastically cuts down the levels of Salmonellaand Campylobacter on chicken carcasses,” Hung said. “Itwould be a very effective addition to chicken processing plants.”He has found the water effective, too, at removing pathogenson foods like lettuce that can’t be heated to kill bacteria.