The coastal region in Kenya is well known for its coconuts but production remains low. Photo Credit: perabeats

Agricultural disinfectants: How to choose the right one for your farm operations

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An important aspect of good hygiene practices in farming is disinfection to eliminate harmful pathogens. There are several types of agricultural disinfectants in the market today.

Traditional agricultural disinfectants include quaternary ammonium compounds, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine-based disinfectants, and peroxyacetic acid. New, safer, and sustainable solutions such as Hydroliq Agricultural Disinfectants exist. Hydroliq is a revolutionary technology that turns normal water into a highly potent but safe disinfectant.

Given the wide variety of disinfectants available one can easily end up making the wrong choice. If you choose the wrong one you may end up suffering unnecessary losses. You could lose productivity as well as continue to suffer from the pathogens.

In this article, we look at the considerations you need to bear in mind when choosing the right disinfectant.

1. Why do you disinfect?

It is important to choose the right disinfectant for the right type of farming. Even where an active ingredient in a disinfectant is broad-based and used in various farming environments it is important to get the concentration right for the right impact. For example, the disinfection of the greenhouse before a new crop is introduced will need a higher concentration than for continuous disinfection when there is no visible sign of infection. The concentration required when actual contamination has been identified may also be different.

2. What pathogen do you want to eliminate?

You have to be clear about which pathogens you want to disinfect against because some disinfectants can be effective against one pathogen but ineffective against another. While most marketers indicate their disinfectants as highly effective you may need to check independent reviews on how effective the active ingredients are on various pathogens.

You could also choose to test the disinfectant on a sample animal or crop before going full swing to be sure you are going to get the results you need.

3. Where do you need to disinfect?

Also, it is key to use the right disinfectant and disinfection method in the right place. If you use disinfectants for surfaces on plants or animals you may fail to get the hygiene levels you require. For example, the best disinfectant for work surfaces applied by wiping may be ineffective when it comes to disinfecting walls and high places, which may require a disinfectant dispersed through fogging.

4. Environmental factors

Environmental factors affect the effectiveness of some disinfectants. For example, some disinfectants’ effectiveness is affected by temperature and the PH conditions of the places being disinfected. As such you need to be sure that the disinfectant you choose is right for the environmental conditions you have.

5. Effect on the environment

What is the impact of the disinfectant on the soil, pollinators, water, and air? The disinfectant may be highly safe when used in its unbroken molecule but it breaks down into molecules or elements that are harmful to the environment. The same might happen when the disinfectant breaks down to safe residues but before it breaks down it is harmful to the environment. You, therefore, need to be clear on the choice and method of application of the disinfectant that is safe for the environment.

It is also important to note that even when a disinfectant can break down to safe residues this can take too long hence it harms the environment before it breaks down. Some residues are safe only in small quantities. Be sure the disinfectant you use has the lowest residues that are safe. Also, ensure the active ingredient is in the smallest possible quantities in comparison to the safe materials in the disinfectant. When choosing a disinfectant always go for one that is both safe in its totality and when it breaks down.

6. Corrosion of materials

The biggest disadvantage of most disinfectants, even the so-called non-toxic ones, is their corrosiveness. They will attack materials such as steel, aluminum, plastic, and rubber. Corrosiveness leads to major costs of repairs and replacements of agricultural structures, tools, and equipment. Corrosiveness shortens the life of structures, leading to hefty capital investments which could be utilised in the expansion of your farm or improvement of productivity.

7. Pathogen resistance

Over time pathogens can develop resistance to certain disinfectants. As such you need to consider this possibility when choosing a disinfectant. The pathogens will most likely become resistant to the most commonly used disinfectant in an area or one that you have been using for a long time.

As such it is important to be sure that there is minimal risk of resistance in the disinfectant you are using or frequently change the disinfectants based on their active ingredients.

8. Toxicity to humans

Many disinfectants attack human skin and mucous membranes, leading to respiratory problems and asthma. They could also affect the eyes, causing itchiness and making them watery. Choose a disinfectant that is safe for the workers even if the disinfectant is used in the presence of people or have prolonged exposure to it.

9. Effect on plants and animals

If the disinfectant is going to be used on the plant be sure it has minimal phytotoxicity on the plant even when used in large quantities. For animals make sure that the disinfectant you use does not cause pain to them, especially if they have lesions, wounds, or cracks on the skin or hooves. This is important not only for the animal’s well-being but also for the productivity of the animal. For example, a dairy cow can have its milk productivity reduced greatly if it experiences pain caused by a disinfectant.

10. Regulations and standards

Always be sure the disinfectant you use meets various farming best practices and standards that apply to you. It will be a major loss to use a disinfectant that ends up costing you an export market because of the residues it left or because it was ineffective in controlling a pathogen that makes your product ineligible for that market.


Given all the above considerations you need to go for a disinfectant that requires minimal expertise in use and handling. Some disinfectants can have catastrophic impacts if mishandled due to their impact on people, crops, animals, and the environment. Others can be highly ineffective if you miss a small detail in mixing. As much as possible go for one that requires basic skills to handle while remaining effective against the pathogens.

Hydroliq Agricultural Disinfectants are safe, sustainable, and highly potent against 99.99% of diseasecausing pathogens in horticulture, dairy, poultry, food handling and, food processing sectors. Hydroliq has a fast contact time and does not have a pungent smell. It does not irritate the skin and also does not corrode your structure, tools and equipment. It does not harm plants, animals, pollinators, soil and water.

Sam Kariuki of Growth Partners leads the team that is distributing Hydroliq Agricultural Disinfection Solutions in the East African Region with Janst Healthcare International.

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