Soil property changes after four decades of wastewater irrigation: A landscape prspective

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, 116 ASI Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, United States
Catena (Impact Factor: 2.82). 03/2008; 73(1):63-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2007.09.002


For over 40 years, The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) has irrigated its wastewater onto both cropped and forested lands. Despite local weather conditions, approximately 50 mm/week of wastewater have been spray-irrigated onto the land since 1962. This irrigation, combined with the natural precipitation, amounts to approximately 3550 mm of water per year. The objective of this study was to investigate the morphological and functional changes in soils of this area as a result of this significantly-increased water load. The research area has a karst geology and is dominated by rolling hills with many small depressions that act as sinks for water and sediments. Together with six soil trenches, 47 soil cores were taken across a 6.5-ha field. Previous studies conducted at this site provided a reference for interpreting the changes in soil properties over time. Soil morphological properties, including structure, horizonation, and redoximorphic features, were evaluated from the soil cores and in situ soil pits. In addition, soil functional parameters, including saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat), bulk density, organic matter content, and soil pH, were evaluated to determine the soil functional changes. Results indicate that the soils have experienced periods of local saturation and soil transport, which are reflected by the distribution of redoximorphic features and A-horizon thickness across the study area. Sample locations were grouped into three landscape positions (summit, midslope, and depression) that exhibited similar soil properties. The depth of the A-horizon was significantly greater in the depressions, while the midslope position had the highest manganese oxide coating percentage, and the summit position had the highest bulk density. This reflects the likely hydrologic path from the summit to the depression. The depression areas had the highest mean surface Ksat (10.2 cm/h), while the summit areas had the lowest mean surface Ksat (1.2 cm/h). Both organic matter content and soil pH have increased considerably since 1971. Overall, although soil properties have changed through the decades of irrigation, the wastewater spray irrigation system remains functional in this area and the soils are still performing reasonably well; however, some concerns about reduced soil functionality need to be addressed from a landscape perspective in order to sustain this system.

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    • "La utilización del agua regenerada en la agricultura aumenta el nivel general de la fertilidad del suelo, pero también las concentraciones de metales pesados y la tasa de infección por patógenos (Palacios, 2009). En los terrenos agrícolas regados durante décadas con aguas regeneradas se han podido comprobar efectos desfavorables en el suelo relacionados con la acumulación de sales en los horizontes superficiales, especialmente en los climas más secos (Walker, 2008). El agua regenerada empleada para el riego de los parques de Madrid presenta una calidad adecuada para este fin de acuerdo con los estándares aceptados comúnmente (M u je rie g o , 2 0 0 8 ; B a la iró n , 2 0 0 2 ), a u n q u e su c ará c te r clorurado sódico y el incremento de conductividad con respecto al agua de la red urbana puede tener efectos no deseados sobre el suelo y la vegetación. "
    Estudios en la Zona No Saturada ZNS’13, Edited by AGAIA, 11/2013; Universidad Santiago de Compostela., ISBN: 978-84-616-6234-0
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    • "The reuse of wastewater for irrigation purposes gives it a different fate as agricultural crops can make use of the extra water and nutrients. Groundwater recharge is another positive outcome of wastewater irrigation (Walker and Lin, 2008). Wastewater has a potential to supply carbon nutrients (NPK) and micro nutrients to support crop/plant growth (Singh et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Scarcity of freshwater is becoming an increasing problem primarily in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. The study was designed to investigate the effects of wastewater irrigation on soil properties and growth parameters of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) in southwestern Nigeria. The irrigation treatments consisted of kitchen wastewater, rainwater and groundwater in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) in three replications. Soil samples were collected in the 0 to 20 cm range, analyzed before irrigation application and after harvest according to USDA standard procedures while crop growth parameters were recorded 3, 5 and 7 weeks after planting. Soil pH decreased in all the soil samples after the different water applications, the lowest pH from kitchen wastewater. Electrical conductivity (EC) increased slightly in all soil samples, the highest EC value of 8.59 × 10 dS/m from groundwater irrigation. The sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) increased in all the irrigation treatments but was below the critical value of 13. The stem girth and leaf area were not significantly affected by water type (WT) during the three periods of evaluation but leaf numbers and plant length differ significantly at seven week of growth. Soil condition was not significantly impacted by the use of kitchen wastewater, however, appropriate wastewater treatment and water management practices have to be followed to remove the toxic elements which could be hazards to vegetable production and the environment.
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    • "However, the selection of plant species with a high potential for nutrient uptake and/or high values of water use efficiency (WUE) could alleviate this problem (Tzanakakis et al., 2009; Paranychianakis et al., 2006). The long-term application of effluent induces changes in soil properties, including physical changes, and changes in organic matter , nutrients and salts (Walker and Lin, 2008; Lado and Ben-Hur, "
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    ABSTRACT: Four pilot land treatment systems (LTS) planted with different plant species were investigated as a means of managing wastewater in small communities. The effects of effluent application on soil properties during three years of operation are presented. LTS were planted with Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Acacia cyanophylla, Populus nigra and Arundo donax. Wastewater was pre-treated in a septic tank and applied to LTS at suitable rates to meet crop water requirements. Effluent application was found to increase soil organic matter, P and TKN content, particularly, in the topsoil but plant species had no effect on these parameters. Increases were also observed for salinity and sodium adsorption ratio which were found to depend on hydraulic loading. Winter precipitation leached the majority of the salts accumulated during the application period. Nitrates accumulated in the soil profile throughout the application period and this increase was dependent on plant species. LTS planted with A. donax showed the lowest NO3-N concentration in soil pore water, an effect which cannot be explained by differences in application rates or plant uptake. This may imply stimulated denitrification rates induced by the rhizosphere of reeds. Effluent application also increased total and macro porosity compared to their initial values and bulk density.
    Ecological Engineering 11/2011; 37(11):1757-1764. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.06.024 · 2.58 Impact Factor
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