+27 011 608 3345

The Nature and Purpose of Agricultural Water Treatment Systems

Contrary to popular opinion, it is farming and not the mining industry that is the biggest consumer of the world’s water, accounting for a massive 62 per cent of South Africa’s total usage. By comparison, all other industries combined consume around 11 per cent, while domestic and urban users are responsible for the remaining 27 per cent. Given that farm usage is continuing to grow, effective agricultural water treatment systems have become increasingly vital to conserve dwindling potable reserves and safeguard the environment in general.

Wherever possible, any wastewater arising from farming activities should be rendered safe. One solution is to recycle it for reuse, such as cleaning farm equipment or crop irrigation. Alternatively, farmers can treat the effluent to remove any potentially harmful chemical or biological materials before returning it to the environment, where these could contaminate surface and groundwater sources. In practice, most farmers tend to employ agricultural water treatment systems to reclaim some of their wastewater for reuse while ensuring any runoff, arising from that which remains unused, poses no threat should it enter nearby rivers or underground aquifers.

There are numerous potential sources of contamination on the average farm. These include animal slurry, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Ensuring that water is free of such materials is not only crucial to the environment, it also poses a threat to farm animals, such as poultry and dairy cattle. Consequently, it can often be doubly important to ensure that the agricultural water treatment system in use is as effective as possible.

Where there is sufficient available space, a decant pond offers an economical solution. This traditional method allows solids to settle out, leaving a clear liquid above that can be safely disposed of by spraying or trickling it over available grassland. Although a mechanised solution may be more expensive, it offers the advantage of an end-product that is suitable for most purposes, safe for disposal and can be further treated until it is potable, if required. For such purposes, the necessary agricultural water treatment systems are much like those used for treating industrial wastewater.

Undoubtedly, membrane technology has been one of the most significant advances in this field. Used in the ultrafiltration technique known as reverse osmosis (RO), these semi-permeable membranes can retain any molecule larger than water as well as bacteria and viruses. Various pre-treatments, including coarser filtration methods to remove any large particles that could clog the RO membranes, are also necessary, along with pH adjustment, aerobic and anaerobic digestion stages.

To ensure the most effective agricultural water treatment systems for your farm, be sure to chat with the experts at Watericon to determine your needs.