Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR) can integrate a great number of variables and overcome collinearity problems, a fact that makes it suitable for intensive agronomical practices such as land application. In the present study a PLSR model was developed to predict important management goals, including biomass production and nutrient recovery (i.e.
, nitrogen and phosphorus), associated with treatment potential, environmental impacts, and economic benefits. Effluent loading and a considerable number of soil parameters commonly monitored in effluent irrigated lands were considered as potential predictor variables during the model development. All data were derived from a three year field trial including plantations of four different plant species (Acacia cyanophylla
, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
, Populus nigra
, and Arundo donax
), irrigated with pre-treated domestic effluent. PLSR method was very effective despite the small sample size and the wide nature of data set (with many highly correlated inputs and several highly correlated responses). Through PLSR method the number of initial predictor variables was reduced and only several variables were remained and included in the final PLSR model. The important input variables maintained were: Effluent loading, electrical conductivity (EC), available phosphorus (Olsen-P), Na+
, SAR, and NO3−
-N. Among these variables, effluent loading, EC, and nitrates had the greater contribution to the final PLSR model. PLSR is highly compatible with intensive agronomical practices such as land application, in which a large number of highly collinear and noisy input variables is monitored to assess plant species performance and to detect impacts on the environment.
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