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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 893: International Symposium on High Technology for Greenhouse Systems: GreenSys2009

THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL WETLANDS TO TREAT GREENHOUSE EFFLUENTS

Authors:   V. Lévesque, M. Dorais, V. Gravel, C. Ménard, H. Antoun, P. Rochette, S. Roy
Keywords:   carbon source, constructed pond, denitrification, greenhouse gas emission, macrophytes, nitrogen and phosphate removal
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2011.893.138
Abstract:
Untreated greenhouse effluents or leak solution constitute a major environmental burden because their nitrate and phosphate concentrations may induce eutrophication. Artificial wetlands may offer a low cost alternative treatment of greenhouse effluents and consequently improve the sustainability of greenhouse growing systems. The objectives of this study were to 1) characterize the efficiency of different types of wetland to reduce ion content of greenhouse tomato effluent, and 2) improve the wetland efficiency by adding carbon of 0-800 mg L-1 sucrose. Experiments were conducted at Laval University where 30 pilot scale horizontal subsurface flow artificial wetlands (0.81 m3) were built. Two types of aquatic macrophytes, Pragmites australis and Typha latifolia, and a control group without plants were tested. The hydraulic retention time was 10 days. During the study, EC of the greenhouse effluent ranged between 1.5 to 5.5 mS cm-1, while 0 to 800 mg L-1 of sucrose was provided to improve the biological activity of the wetland. The macro- and micro-elements, the greenhouse gases (CH4, CO2, N2O) and the population of bacteria were measured for each unit. At commercial scale, two vertical subsurface wetlands (43.2 m3) were installed at Ste-Sophie Québec, on the production site of Les Serres Nouvelles Cultures (Sagami). According to our results, 50-90% of nitrate (NO3-) and 40-100% of phosphate (PO43-) were removed from the effluent. At Laval University, artificial wetlands with Typha latifolia were more efficient than wetlands with Phragmites australis or without plants. Addition of sucrose increased wetlands’ microbial population and consequently reduced the mineral content of the wastewater, but increased significantly the emission of greenhouse gases. Results will further be discussed in terms of the best wetland design to treat greenhouse effluents, but also in terms of the environmental impact.

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