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Agricultural Waste Water Management

Suhas Dixit,
Pyrocrat Systems LLP,
Navi Mumbai.
Agriculture Waste Water
Controlling the pollution from surface runoff from farms that may
be contaminated by chemicals in fertilizer, pesticides, animal slurry,
crop residues or irrigation water is called as Agricultural Waste
Water Treatment.
Agricultural Waste Water can be classified into Point Source and
Non-Point Source.
Non-point source pollution
Sediment Runoff: Soil washed off fields is the largest source of
agricultural pollution.
Excess sediment results in high levels of turbidity in water bodies
This can result in inhibition of growth of aquatic plants, clogging
of fish gills and smothering of animal larvae.
Reducing Sediment Runoff
Non-point source pollution can be controlled by activities like.
Contour ploughing
crop mulching
crop rotation
planting perennial crops
installing riparian buffers
Nutrient Runoff
Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and manure are key
pollutants found in runoff.
Can be avoided by proper mapping of fields, obtaining realistic
estimitation of crop yields, conducting soil tests, analyzing fertilizers
and manure.
Pesticides are often used for increasing productivity by controlling
The pesticides are hence found even in the surface water.
Integrated Pest management can be done to promote usage of
biological pesticides over chemical ones.
Point Source Pollution
It is an issue largely associated with farms with livestock and
The waste water is composed of animal waste slurry.
Animal Waste Slurry can be treated by containment in lagoons
before being sprayed on grasslands.
Silage liquor
Fresh grass or other green crops can be made into a semi-
fermented product using sulphuric or formic acid
called silage which can be stored and used as winter forage for
The process of silage making frequently produces a yellow-brown
strongly smelling liquid which is one of the most polluting organic
substances known.
Silage liquor that is produced can be used as part of the food for
Dairy Farming Waste
Milk causes rapid rapid de-oxygenation of water.
Dairy farming wastes also consists of wash-down water, some
animal waste and disinfection chemicals.
Milking parlour wastes are often treated in admixture with human
sewage in a local sewage treatment plant. This ensures that
disinfectants and cleaning agents are sufficiently diluted and
amenable to treatment.
Fire is a rare event in farms but Stores of pesticides, herbicides, fuel
oil for farm machinery and fertilizers can all help promote fire and
can all be present in environmentally lethal quantities
in firewater from fire fighting at farms.
Containment of substantial quantities of firewater shall be pre-
planned along with its subsequent recovery and disposal by
specialist disposal companies as the concentration of contaminants
in firewater makes them unsuitable for the wastewater to be used
for any other application.
Agricultural Waste Water Treatment
Screening : At this stage, large objects like diapers, sanitary items,
bottle caps, plastics, broken bottles, etc. are separated from the
Primary Treatment : This part of the process is used to remove
organic material from the water. The waste is then placed in large
settlement tanks for the sludge to sink to the bottom.
Secondary Treatment Once the sludge has been removed, the
water is placed in rectangular tanks called aeration lanes.
Final Treatment The water is moved into settlement tanks.
More sludge is formed at the bottom of the tanks due to the
bacteria breakdown. It is scraped and collected for
treatment. Water is then released into the river.
Physical Treatment
Sedimentation, flotation, adsorption, barriers such as bar racks,
screens, deep bed filters, and membranes are used in physical
agricultural wastewater treatment.
The use of this method removes waste by using naturally occurring
forces including gravity, electrical attraction and van der Waal forces
in addition to physical barriers.
Chemical Treatment
Chemicals are used to accelerate disinfection using various techniques
Chemical Coagulation Most common method for removing
dissolved metals from wastewater solution containing toxic metals.
Chemical Precipitation Involves destabilizing wastewater
particles so that they aggregate during chemical flocculation.
Chemical Oxidation An oxidizing agent is added during
chemical oxidation. Electrons move from the oxidant to the
pollutants in wastewater.
Chemical Treatment (contd.)
Advanced Oxidation Helps remove any organic compounds
that are created as a result of chemical oxidation.
Ion Exchange Ion exchange is a process that can be used to
soften water. Positive sodium ions in the form of sodium chloride,
salt or brine are added to the water.
Chemical Neutralization and Stabilization Similar to
chemical oxidation, sludge is treated with a large amount of
oxidant. This slows down the rate of biological growth in the
sludge. This also works as a deodorizing agent.
Biological Treatment
Biological wastewater treatment uses organisms like bacteria,
nematodes, and other small organisms to break down organic
substances in wastewater.