Infoscience

Journal article

Reuse of domestic wastewater treated in macrophyte ponds to irrigate tomato and eggplant in semi-arid West-Africa: benefits and risks

The scarcity of freshwater resources is a critical problem in semi-arid zones and marginal quality water is increasingly being used in agriculture. This paper aimed at evaluating the physico-chemical and biological risks on irrigated soils and fruits of macrophyte treated wastewater (TWW), the nutrients supply, and the effect on tomato and eggplant production in semi-arid Burkina Faso. During three years of experiments, treated wastewater was used, with fresh water as control, in combination with or without mineral fertilizer application at recommended rate (140 kg N/ha + 180 kg P2O5/ha + 180 kg K2O/ha). The study revealed that the treated wastewater provided variable nutrients supply depending on year and element. The treated wastewater without mineral fertilizer improved eggplant yield (40% in average) compared to the freshwater. Both crops responded better to mineral fertilizer (52% for tomato and 82% for eggplant) and the effects of the treated wastewater and fertilizer were additive. As the N supply of TWW was very unsteady (8-227% of crop need), and P2O5 supply did not satisfy in whole crop need (3-58%) during any of the three years of experiment, we recommended that moderate N and P2O5 fertilizers be applied when irrigating with TWW in semi-arid West-Africa. On the contrary, the K2O supply was more steady and close to crop requirement (78-126%) over the three years of experiment and no addition of K fertilizer may be needed when irrigated with TWW. Faecal coliforms and helminth eggs were observed in treated wastewater and irrigated soils at rate over the FAO and WHO recommended limits for vegetable to be eaten uncooked. Tomato fruits were observed to be faecal coliform contaminated with the direct on-foliage irrigation with treated wastewater. Our results indicate that treated wastewater can effectively be used as both nutrients source and crop water supply in market gardening in the semi-arid Sub-Saharan West Africa (SSWA) where freshwater and farm income are limiting. Yet consumers should properly cook or disinfect treated-wastewater irrigated vegetables before eating, and market gardeners should also be careful manipulating treated wastewater to avoid direct health contamination in this environment. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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