nutrients & agrichemicals (27)

22 Jan 2019

Removal of Nitrogen and Phosphorus from Nursery Runoff using Zeolite and Woodchips

Anna Birnbaum and Jim Owen (Virginia Tech)

Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) runoff from containerized nurseries contributes impaired US waterways. Virginia Tech aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of ferric aided zeolite sieves with or without bioreactors as a potential BMP for N and P removal of containerized nursery production tail-water (i.e. runoff). The ferric aided zeolite sieve without woodchip bioreactor achieved an average P removal efficiency of 30% with no effect on N removal.  Woodchip bioreactors preceding zeolite was effective for N removal with an average rate of 14%. Woodchip bioreactors reduced efficacy at N removal was presumed to be a result of retention times >24hrs and high sulfur concentrations.  Ferric aided zeolite+woodchip bioreactor treatment trains may be effective for N and P reduction in nursery tail-water if designed properly to avoid excessive retention times in the denitrification bioreactors.

Watch the presentation here 

RemovalNitrogenPhosphorusfromNurseryRunoffusingZeoliteandWoodchips (4957 KB)

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Description of research activities

A national team of scientists is working to encourage use of alternative water resources by the nation’s billion-dollar nursery and floriculture industry has been awarded funds for the first year of an $8.7 million, five year US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture –Specialty Crop Research Initiative competitive grant.

The team will develop and apply systems-based solutions to assist grower decision making by providing science-based information to increase use of recycled water.  This award from the NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is managed by Project Director Sarah White of Clemson University.  She leads a group of 21 scientists from nine U.S. institutions.

Entitled “Clean WateR3 - Reduce, Remediate, Recycle – Enhancing Alternative Water Resources Availability and Use to Increase Profitability in Specialty Crops”, the Clean WateR3 team will assist the grower decision-making process by providing science-based information on nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide fate in recycled water both before and after treatment, average cost and return-on investment of technologies examined, and model-derived, site specific recommendations for water management.  The trans-disciplinary Clean WateR3 team will develop these systems-based solutions by integrating sociological, economic, modeling, and biological data into a user-friendly decision-support system intended to inform and direct our stakeholders’ water management decision-making process.

The Clean WateR3 grant team is working with a stakeholder group of greenhouse and nursery growers throughout the United States.

For example, at the University of Florida graduate student George Grant is collecting data on removal of paclobutrazol, a highly persistent plant growth regulator chemical, from recirculated water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is being done in both research greenhouses and in a commercial site. The GAC filters can remove more than 90% of chemical residues, and are proving to be a cost-effective treatment method.