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Effective Agricultural Wastewater Treatment is Vital for Conservation

Few people would doubt that industry consumes most of the world’s water. However, it is not mining, petrochemicals, logging, power generation or similar bulk users that are the thirsty ones within this sector. In practice, their combined usage of around 12% is less than half that consumed for domestic purposes in urban and rural areas. At almost 60%, agriculture is the biggest guzzler by far. Not surprisingly, perfecting and implementing agricultural wastewater treatment is becoming a matter of global concern.

agricultural wastewater treatment

Due to their location, many farms are beyond the reach of a municipal water supply, and those that aren’t will use it mainly for drinking and domestic chores. For irrigation purposes, cleaning equipment and other farming-related tasks, most farmers draw their water from rivers, storage dams, rain barrels and boreholes. However, whatever its source, the water will invariably become contaminated during use. To ensure it will pose no threat if returned to the environment, practical and effective agricultural wastewater treatment technology is, therefore, essential. Furthermore, the use of appropriate treatments can also render this waste product reusable. Recycling in this fashion is playing an increasingly important role in water conservation.

The widespread use of chemicals in farming poses the biggest threat to environmental integrity. Pesticides and artificial fertilizers in the runoff from farms possess the potential to wreak havoc with surrounding ecosystems unless farmers adopt suitable preventative measures, such as erosion control or biological pest control techniques. Animal waste is also a frequent contaminant. But, with the appropriate agricultural wastewater treatment, it should pose no long-term problems, and the treated effluent will be suitable for reuse.

The systems employed on farms for treating contaminated water are not too different from those on which municipalities depend when producing the potable water they supply to the nation’s homes. In each case, the process must begin with some means to separate any solids present. After screening to remove large particles, sedimentation is generally the method employed to separate the smaller particles. Once the sewage sludge and effluent are separated, there is a specific agricultural wastewater treatment for each.

The sludge can then be subjected to digestion by anaerobic bacteria to produce natural compost that is safe to reuse. Similarly, digestion of the effluent under aerobic conditions will then result in a clear, odourless liquid that can be used for irrigation or cleaning vehicles and farm equipment, as required. If desired, further purification with reverse osmosis and chlorination could render it safe for human consumption.

If you would like to learn more about how you could make your farm more sustainable while helping to protect the environment, talk to WaterIcon about innovative agricultural wastewater treatment technology.