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Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of Phytodesalination Potential of Vegetated Bioreactors Treating Greenhouse Effluent

Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University, 58 University Avenue, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment, Fleming College, Lindsay, ON K9V 5E6, Canada
Aqua Treatment Technologies, Campden, ON L0R 1G0, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: Fabio Masi and Alan Howard
Water 2016, 8(6), 233;
Received: 25 February 2016 / Revised: 9 May 2016 / Accepted: 23 May 2016 / Published: 31 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructed Wetlands Systems and Management)
The dissolved salt ions that are not absorbed during irrigation of greenhouse crops are gradually accumulated in the nutrient solution resulting in levels of salinity high enough to damage the crops. This water salinity presents operational and environmental challenges as the nutrient-rich greenhouse effluent should be discharged to the environment when deemed unsuited for irrigation. In this pilot-scale study, the potential of passive salt reduction (phytodesalination) in gravel and wood-chip flow-through reactors was evaluated using seven plant species including Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Andropogon gerardii, Typha angustifolia, Elymus canadensis, Panicum virgatum, Spartina pectinata and Distichlis spicata along with an unplanted control reactor. While the unplanted system outperformed the planted units with gravel media, the wood-chip bioreactors with S. tabernaemontani and S. pectinata improved the greenhouse effluent reducing the solution conductivity (EC) by a maximum of 15% (average = 7%). S. tabernaemontani and D. spicata showed higher accumulated contents of Na+ and Cl in comparison with T. angustifolia and S. pectinata. Overall, S. tabernaemontani was selected as the most capable species in the wood-chip bioreactors for its better salt management via EC reduction and salt accumulation. It was however concluded that further treatment would be required for the greenhouse effluent to meet the stringent irrigation water quality guidelines in order not to pose any adverse effects on sensitive crops. Finally, the present hydraulic residence time (HRT = 3.7 days) and the solution salinity concentration were identified as the potential factors that may be limiting the efficiency of plant salt uptake, emphasizing the need for conducting more research on the optimization and enhancement of passive desalination systems for the greenhouse effluent. View Full-Text
Keywords: phytodesalination; wood-chip bioreactor; greenhouse effluent; halophyte; salinity phytodesalination; wood-chip bioreactor; greenhouse effluent; halophyte; salinity
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Fatehi Pouladi, S.; Anderson, B.C.; Wootton, B.; Rozema, L. Evaluation of Phytodesalination Potential of Vegetated Bioreactors Treating Greenhouse Effluent. Water 2016, 8, 233.

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