All You Need To Know About Agricultural Wastewater Treatment

The term ‘agricultural wastewater treatment’ stands for a farm management method that’s focused on controlling water pollution levels.

When it comes to farms and water contamination, there’s a plethora of factors that can pollute the water. From chemical fertilizers to animal manure, there are literally a dozen things that can contaminate the surface runoff.

And that’s why we’ve dedicated an entire post to this issue, so make sure to read on!

All You Need To Know About Agricultural Wastewater Treatment

What Is Agricultural Waste Water Though?

Essentially, this is the excess water that naturally results from the surface irrigation process. Agricultural wastewater (or tailwater) is virtually impossible to avoid because, in order for the soil to be properly irrigated, there is always going to be some excess water or tailwater runoff.

On the other hand, centralized facilities are another potential source of such wastewater. Subsequently, large amounts of wastewater are generated (both agricultural and industrial) and then this waste is transported to specialized wastewater treatment plants where they are processed accordingly.

But the best things to do with wastewater resulting from surface irrigation is for it to be reused on other furrows and basins that are in close proximity. One of the most straightforward methods to achieve that is through denivelation, since that way the tailwater can runoff directly to the furrows that are below the irrigated surfaces.

It’s worth noting that wastewater shouldn’t reach the groundwater as to prevent any potential pollution.┬áThat’s because agricultural wastewater most likely contains chemicals in the form of pesticides and fertilizers. Thus, it’s better to prevent it from reaching the groundwater in order to avoid water contamination.

However, agricultural wastewater has certain benefits, related to its high organic-matter content. Here are some of the potential uses, apart from utilizing treatment methods:

  • Soil conditioning
  • Irrigation

In essence, it can effectively improve the soil in almost all aspects, including its nutrient and organic content. Nonetheless, dealing with wastewater is a responsible task and reusing it should always be done with caution and precision to avoid unwanted contamination of the groundwater.

How Does Agriculture Contribute To Water Pollution?

There are several key factors that contribute to water pollution and here they are:

  • Chemicals such as nitrogen (from pesticides, fertilizers, ammonia etc.)
  • Toxins (from farm machinery and equipment)
  • Uncontrolled runoff
  • Manure carried by the cropland

When large quantities of nitrogen enter into lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies of water, it converts to these two forms – nitrate and nitrite. And when there are high levels of nitrate and nitrite in the water, they deplete its H2O (oxygen) content, vanishing aquatic life as a result.

Also, if chemical-rich agricultural wastewater reaches water sources and somehow finds its way into drinking water, then there could serious health implications for those who drink from that contaminated water.

But it’s not only metals, toxins and chemicals that may end up in the water that we’re drinking. Animal manure carries a myriad of nasty parasites and all kinds of bacteria that might lead to various diseases and illnesses, including dysentery and cholera.

Things To Keep In Mind When It Comes To Agricultural Wastewater Treatment

You can effectively reduce or even eliminate some of the harmful effects of agricultural wastewater by:

  • Keep an eye on any runoff from barnyards or feedlots to prevent it from polluting drinking water
  • Utilize nonchemical fertilizers (organic) and biopesticides
  • Properly maintain and service all your farm equipment
  • Frequently dispose of animal manure

When you know that a rainstorm is coming, it’d be better to avoid fertilizing

The Construction Of Wastewater Treatment Plants Is Another Viable Solution

According to relevant scientific data, adequate wastewater treatment can reduce the Escherichia coli (a bacteria) content of the water by a whopping 99%. Not only that, but CH4 and N2O emissions are also lowered (by roughly 68%) when the wastewater is taken care of accordingly.

Thus, the findings from this study point out that although wastewater can be used again for urban agricultural needs, aspects like land constraints and the high rates of water flow may restrict the nutrient recycling part of the equation.

Conclusive Thoughts

There’s no denying that implementing proper wastewater management methods is a must for every farm and the associated benefits are apparent. At the same time, reusing the excessive water resulting from the irrigation process is also encouraged, if executed adequately.

Over to you now – do you think that wastewater should be reused or the risk of contaminating groundwater is too high? Let us know in the comment section below!