Water shortages are an issue of growing worldwide concern. Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 70% of total freshwater withdrawals globally, therefore alternatives to use of conventional sources need to be investigated. This paper critically reviews the application of treated wastewater for agricultural fertigation (i.e., water and nutrient recovery) considering different perspectives: legislation, agronomic characteristics, social acceptability, sustainability of treatment technologies. Critical issues that still need further investigation for a wider application of fertigation practices include accumulation of emerging contaminants in soils, microbiological and public health implications, and stakeholders' acceptance. A techno-economic methodological approach for assessing the sustainability of treated wastewater reuse in agriculture is subsequently proposed herein, which considers different possible local conditions (cultivated crops and effluent characteristics). The results showed that tailoring effluent characteristics to the desired nutrient composition could enhance the process economic sustainability; however, water savings have a major economic impact than fertilizers’ savings, partly due to limited P reuse efficiency. The developed methodology is based on a practical approach and may be generalized to most agricultural conditions, to evaluate and encourage safe and efficient agricultural wastewater reuse practices.

Wastewater fertigation in agriculture: Issues and opportunities for improved water management and circular economy

Matia Mainardis;Alessandro Moretti;Daniele Goi;
2022

Abstract

Water shortages are an issue of growing worldwide concern. Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 70% of total freshwater withdrawals globally, therefore alternatives to use of conventional sources need to be investigated. This paper critically reviews the application of treated wastewater for agricultural fertigation (i.e., water and nutrient recovery) considering different perspectives: legislation, agronomic characteristics, social acceptability, sustainability of treatment technologies. Critical issues that still need further investigation for a wider application of fertigation practices include accumulation of emerging contaminants in soils, microbiological and public health implications, and stakeholders' acceptance. A techno-economic methodological approach for assessing the sustainability of treated wastewater reuse in agriculture is subsequently proposed herein, which considers different possible local conditions (cultivated crops and effluent characteristics). The results showed that tailoring effluent characteristics to the desired nutrient composition could enhance the process economic sustainability; however, water savings have a major economic impact than fertilizers’ savings, partly due to limited P reuse efficiency. The developed methodology is based on a practical approach and may be generalized to most agricultural conditions, to evaluate and encourage safe and efficient agricultural wastewater reuse practices.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/1216810
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