Fertigation

Compiled by:
Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), Dorothee Spuhler (seecon international gmbh), Beat Stauffer (seecon international gmbh), Analiza Miso (Xavier University), Robert Gensch (Xavier University)
Adapted from:
TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014)

Executive Summary

To reduce dependence on freshwater and maintain a constant source of water for irrigation throughout the year, wastewater of varying quality can be used in agriculture. Some wastewater moreover contain valuable nutrients. The concept of agricultural irrigation combined with nutrient fertilization, either by adding fertilizer to the irrigation water or by applying (partly) treated wastewaters of varying quality is called fertigation. Urine, which is rich in nutrients (mainly N and P) can also be added to the irrigation water. However, only water that has had secondary treatment (i.e., physical and biological treatmente.g. in septic tanks, biogas settler, waste stabilization ponds, etc.) should be used to limit the risk of crop contamination and health risks to workers. Fertigation water can be applied through surface drip or subsurface drip irrigation.

In Out

Urine or Yellowwater, Fertigation Water, Treated Water

Food Products

Introduction

 TILLEY et al. (2014)

Fertigation by drip irrigation, functional schematic. Source: TILLEY et al. (2014)

Growing competition between agricultural, industrial and domestic water use particularly in arid, semi-arid and densely populated regions increases the pressure on freshwater resources. It is estimated that within the next 50 years, more than 40% of the world’s population will live in countries facing water stress or water scarcity (HINRICHES et al. 1998). More fresh water is abstracted and used in agriculture in arid and semi-arid countries than for any other purpose (i.e. for domestic uses and industrial uses combined). Water scarcity in agriculture, together with large increases in water demand for municipal uses often results in the reuse of wastewater for irrigation. Even though it is not recommended to use wastewater directly, due to the related risk of chemical and biological pollution, the combined use of the water and the nutrients contained in wastewater is a promising option to increase sustainability in water use and agriculture.

The combined irrigation and fertilisation is called fertigation. There are different ways how fertigation can be done:    

To use wastewater that has been (partly) treated and contains sufficient nutrients to be used in fertigation has several advantages: no freshwater is required; the wastewater requires only to be treated partly (as the nutrients will further be removed by the plants); it provides an extra source of nutrients instead of buying expensive and non-renewable industrial fertiliser. Using urine mixed with fertigation water as a source of nutrients is another way avoiding the dependence on mineral fertiliser (see also peak phosphorus).

The use of wastewater in agriculture and aquaculture (animal or plants) can also act as a low-cost secondary treatment method that increases food production to supply growing urban and periurban populations with fresh produce. While plants take up the fertigation water and some of it infiltrates into the soils, most nutrients and biological oxygen demand are removed and pathogens die off.

Fertigation with partly treated wastewater

Wastewater used for fertigation water, depending on its initial composition, should have undergone both physical treatment to prevent clogging of the irrigation system, and biological treatment to prevent health risks. A combined physical settling and biological treatment can be achieved (e.g. in septic tanks, biogas settler, waste stabilisation ponds, etc.) to reduce pathogens and to limit the risk of crop contamination and the health risk to workers and end consumers. Greywater may be used directly after removal of coarse particles.

Fertigation with urine

Urine contains large amounts of nutrients and is generally pathogen free. In order to bring the nutrients (mainly P and N) contained in the urine to the plants, the urine can be added to the irrigation water. For this technique, urine needs to be collected separately (see also urine diversion components, waterless urinals, urine diversion dehydration toilet, urine diversion flush toilets). A common pre-treatment method for urine, in order to make sure, that there are no pathogens is storage. However this pre-treatment is only optional (see also JOENSSON et al. 2004) and can also lead to precipitation of some of the phosphorus at the bottom of the storage tank. Struvite production from urine is a way to recover the phosphorus in powder form. The effluent from struvite precipitation still contains a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients and may also be used for fertigation.

Application

There are two kinds of irrigation technologies appropriate for treated wastewater:

1) Drip irrigation above or below ground, where the water is slowly dripped on or near the root area; and

2) Surface water irrigation where water is routed overland in a series of dug channels or furrows.

To minimize evaporation and contact with pathogens, spray irrigation should be avoided. Surface irrigation is prone to large losses from evaporation but requires little/no infrastructure and may be appropriate in some situation.

Properly treated wastewater can significantly reduce dependence on fresh water, and/or improve crop yields by supplying increased water and nutrients to plants. Raw sewage or untreated blackwater should not be used, and even well-treated water should be used with caution. Long-term use of poorly or improperly treated water may cause long-term damage to the soil structure and its ability to hold water.

Design Considerations

The application rate must be appropriate for the soil, crop and climate, or it could be damaging. To increase the nutrient value, urine can be dosed into irrigation water; this is called “fertigation” (i.e., fertilization + irrigation). The dilution ratio has to be adapted to the special needs and resistance of the crop. 

 

Drip irrigation systems can be very basic, but still effective for watering and fertigation. Source: IDA (n.y.) 

Drip- or subsurface drip irrigation is about applying the nutrients more directly to the wetted root volume, where the active roots are concentrated. With this method, a maximum of water and fertilizer reaches directly the roots and you safe time, water and fertiliser. This method also decreases the potential of groundwater pollution caused by the fertiliser leaching. Despite the advantages of drip irrigation combined with fertigation, this system is very prone to clogging. Therefore the removal of solids from the wastewater, from the urine mixed with irrigation water or the effluent from struvite production before application is critical. In drip irrigation systems care should be taken to ensure that there is sufficient head (i.e., pressure) and maintenance to reduce the potential for clogging (especially, with urine from which struvite will spontaneously precipitate). Water sources for irrigation that have high contents of calcium, magnesium and bicarbonates (hard waters) are undesirable, because they generate precipitates in the fertilization tank, which leads to clogging of the drippers and/or filters. To avoid clogging periodic injection of acid in the fertigation system is recommended in order to dissolve the precipitates and to unclog the drippers (adapted from KASHEKYA 2009).

For small fields or single plants/trees, fertigation water or pure urine can be applied manually, for bigger fields motorized. It should not be applied on leaves or other parts of plants, as this can cause foliar burning due to high concentrations of ammonia and salts when drying as well as hygiene considerations (RICHERT et al. 2010).

 

Framers in Mexico (Oaxaca) fertigate a mango tree in a steep corn field during a workshop leaded by Sarar Transformación. It is important that the fertigation water (or pure urine) is added in a dug hole next to the crop and covered afterwards. Source: B. STAUFFER (2009) 

Health Aspects/Acceptance

The health risks associated with the use of greywater in agriculture are considered to be lower than those for wastewater. Greywater generally has lower concentrations of pathogens than wastewater, but it may still contain some pathogens, which are introduced into the greywater e.g. from washing babies’ diapers, laundry, personal hygiene or other sources. Wastewater should only be used after appropriate treatment. The WHO Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater Volume II and Volume IV) recognize the potential of using wastewater, excreta and greywater in agriculture and promote a flexible multi-barrier approach for managing the health risks associated with the use of wastewater in agriculture. This multi-barrier concept comprises of a series of measures/barriers (from waste generation to consumption) where each of the barriers has a certain potential to reduce health risks associated with the wastewater use and it is recommended by WHO to put in place several of these barriers if needed in order to reduce the health risk to an acceptable minimum.

Appropriate treatment (i.e., adequate pathogen reduction) should precede any irrigation scheme to limit health risks to those who come in contact with the water. Furthermore, it may still be contaminated with the different chemicals that are discharged into the system depending on the degree of treatment the effluent has undergone. When effluent is used for irrigation, households and industries connected to the system should be made aware of the products that are and are not appropriate to discharge into the system. Drip irrigation is the only type of irrigation that should be used with edible crops, and even then, care should be taken to prevent workers and harvested crops from coming in contact with the treated effluent. The WHO Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater Volume II should be consulted for detailed information and specific guidance.

Operation & Maintenance

Drip irrigation systems must be periodically flushed to avoid biofilm growth and clogging from all types of solids. Pipes should be checked for leaks as they are prone to damage from rodents and humans. Drip irrigation is more costly than conventional irrigation, but offers improved yields and decreased water/operating costs.

Workers should wear appropriate protective clothing.

At a Glance

Working PrinciplePre-treated wastewater, which still contains nutrients, (stored) urine or the effluent of struvite mixed with irrigation water is applied to crops manually, motorized or with a (sub-) surface drip irrigation system.
Capacity/AdequacyThis technique can be utilized all around the world and with many application methods.
PerformanceHigh, en efficient way to reuse nutrients.
CostsLow
Self-help CompatibilityHigh
O&MDepending on the application method. E.g. a drip irrigation systems need a periodically maintenance.
ReliabilityHigh
Main strengthReuse of nutrient content in wastewater.
Main weaknessNutrient content in the used wastewater might vary and difficult to predict.

Applicability

Generally, drip irrigation or sub surface drip irrigation is the most appropriate irrigation method; it is especially good for arid and drought prone areas. Surface irrigation is prone to large losses from evaporation but requires little or no infrastructure and may be appropriate in some situations.

Crops such as corn, alfalfa (and other feed), fibres (e.g., cotton), trees, tobacco, fruit trees (e.g., mangoes) and foods requiring processing (e.g., sugar beets) can be grown safely with treated effluent. More care should be taken with fruits and vegetables that may be eaten raw (e.g., tomatoes) because they could come in contact with the water. Energy crops like eucalyptus, poplar, willow, or ash trees can be grown in short-rotation and harvested for biofuel production. Since the trees are not for consumption, this is a safe, efficient way of using lower-quality effluent.

Fertigation is one of the simplest options not to waste nutrients contained in greywater or other wastewaters and to safe freshwater resource. It is particularly useful in water scarce areas and where mineral fertilisers are not affordable. Soil quality can degrade over time (e.g., due to the accumulation of salts) if poorly treated wastewater is applied. The application rate must be appropriate for the soil, crop and climate, or it could be damaging (TILLEY et al. 2008). Fertigation is suitable for both rural and periurban areas. Particularly urban and periurban agriculture offers a good interface where fertigation can be practiced close to where the wastewater is generated and easily available, where freshwater is scarce and where the demand for food is highest.

There are potential health risks if water is not properly pre-treated (i.e. inadequate pathogen reduction).  Despite safety concerns, irrigation with effluent is an effective way to recycle nutrients and water. Even though the nutrients are removed by the plants in fertigation, fertigation may not provide adequate treatment for raw wastewater (see also water pollution).

Advantages

  • Reduces depletion of groundwater and improves the availability of drinking water
  • Reduced need for fertilizer
  • Even distribution of nutrients throughout the root zone by drip irrigation
  • Potential for local job creation and income generation
  • Low risk of pathogen transmission if water is properly treated
  • Low to moderate capital and operating costs

Disadvantages

  • May require expert design and installation
  • Not all parts and materials may be locally available
  • Drip irrigation is very sensitive to clogging, i.e., the water must be free from suspended solids
  • Nutrient content in the used wastewater might vary and difficult to predict
  • Risk of soil salinization if the soil is prone to the accumulation of salts
  • Social acceptance may be low in some areas

References Library

BURT, C.; O’CONNOR, K.; RUEHR, T. (1998): Fertigation. San Luis Obispo: California : Polytechnic State University, Irrigation Training and Research Center.

DRECHSEL, P. (Editor); SCOTT, C.A. (Editor); RASCHID-SALLY, L. (Editor); REDWOOD, M. (Editor); BAHRI, A. (Editor) (2010): Wastewater Irrigation and Health. Assessing and Mitigating Risk in Low-Income Countries. London: Earthscan. URL [Accessed: 15.05.2012].

EAWAG (Editor) (2011): Excreta and Wastewater Management – Drip Irrigation. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science (EAWAG). URL [Accessed: 16.12.2011].

EUBIA (Editor) (2008): Short Rotation Plantations: Opportunities for Efficient Biomass Production with the Safe Application of Wastewater and Sewage Sludge. Brussels: European Biomass Industry Association (EUBIA). URL [Accessed: 04.08.2010].

FAO (Editor) (2012): On-Farm Practices for the Safe Use of Wastewater in Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture. A Training Handbook for Farmer Field Schools. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

IAEA (Editor) (n.y.): An Innovative Fertigation 15N Setup in Slovenia. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). URL [Accessed: 13.08.2010].

IDA (Editor) (2011): Innovative Drip Irrigation. Golden: International Development Enterprises. URL [Accessed: 12.12.2011].

KASHEKYA, E.J. (2009): Struvite Production from Source Separated Urine in Nepal. MSc Thesis. Delft: UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. URL [Accessed: 05.12.2011].

PALADA, M.; BHATTARAI, S.; WU, D.; ROBERTS, M.; BHATTARAI, M.; KIMSAN, R.; MIDMORE, D. (2011): More Crop Per Drop. Using Simple Drip Irrigation Systems for Small-scale Vegetable Production. Shanhua, Tainan: AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center. URL [Accessed: 18.01.2012].

PESCOD, M.B. (1992): Wastewater Treatment and Use in Agriculture. (= FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper , 47). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). URL [Accessed: 25.10.2011].

RICHERT, A.; GENSCH, R.; JOENSSON, H.; STENSTROEM, T.A.; DAGERSKOG, L. (2010): Practical Guidance on the Use of Urine in Crop Production. (= EcoSanRes Publication Series, Report No. 2010-1). Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). URL [Accessed: 20.07.2010].

See document in FRENCH, SPANISH

TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 28.07.2014].

WHO (Editor) (2006): Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater. Volume IV. Excreta and Greywater Use in Agriculture. Geneva: World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 26.02.2010].

WHO (Editor) (2006): Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater. Volume II. Wastewater Use in Agriculture. Geneva: World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 26.02.2010].

WINPENNY, J.; HEINZ, I.; KOO-OSHIMA, S.; SALGOT, M.; COLLADO, J.; HERNANDEZ, F.; TORRICELLI, R. (2010): The Wealth of Waste. The Economics of Wastewater Use in Agriculture. (= FAO Water Reports , 35). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

ZANDEE, M. (2012): Risk of Clogging of Drip-Line Emitters during Urine Fertilization through Drip Irrigation Equipment. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 04.04.2014].

Further Readings Library

Reference icon

TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; SCHERTENLEIB, R.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies (Arabic). 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). PDF

This is the Arabic version of the Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. The Compendium gives a systematic overview on different sanitation systems and technologies and describes a wide range of available low-cost sanitation technologies.


Reference icon

DRECHSEL, P. (Editor); SCOTT, C.A. (Editor); RASCHID-SALLY, L. (Editor); REDWOOD, M. (Editor); BAHRI, A. (Editor) (2010): Wastewater Irrigation and Health. Assessing and Mitigating Risk in Low-Income Countries. London: Earthscan. URL [Accessed: 15.05.2012].

This book is written for practitioners, researchers and graduate students in environmental and public health, sanitary and agricultural engineering, and wastewater irrigation management in developing countries. In particular, it should be useful for all those working to assess and mitigate health risks from the use of wastewater and faecal sludge in agriculture, under conditions where wastewater treatment is absent or inadequate to safeguard public health. In this respect, the book builds on and complements the international Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater published in 2006 by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Environment Programme.


Reference icon

FAO (Editor) (2012): On-Farm Practices for the Safe Use of Wastewater in Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture. A Training Handbook for Farmer Field Schools. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This training handbook is a field guide for training urban and peri-urban vegetable farmers in safe practices when using wastewater in vegetable production. It is designed to provide complete information, knowledge and skills for safer and successful production of vegetables in urban and peri-urban farming systems.


Reference icon

FAO (Editor) (1997): Small-scale Irrigation for Arid Zones. Principles and Options. Rom: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). URL [Accessed: 23.06.2011].

This publication is an attempt to distil current information on irrigation methods that might be appropriate, and to offer some ideas on the possible adoption and adaptation of such methods by small-scale farmers in the semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa.


Reference icon

IDE (Editor) (n.y.): Technical Manual for Ideal Micro Irrigation Systems. Golden: International Development Enterprises. URL [Accessed: 30.11.2011].

This manual features comprehensive parts lists and instructions for assembling low-cost drip irrigation systems.


Reference icon

JOENSSON, H.; RICHERT, A.; VINNERAAS, B.; SALOMON, E. (2004): Guidelines on the Use of Urine and Faeces in Crop Production. (= EcoSanRes Publications Series, 2004). Stockholm: EcoSanRes. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012].

These guidelines provide a thorough background on the use of urine (and faeces) for agricultural purposes. Aspects discussed are requirements for plant growth, nutrients in excreta, hygiene aspects, and recommendations for cultivation. It provides detailed guidance on the use of urine for purposes.


Reference icon

KASHEKYA, E.J. (2009): Struvite Production from Source Separated Urine in Nepal. MSc Thesis. Delft: UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. URL [Accessed: 05.12.2011].

This thesis explores the potential reuse of struvite effluent in Siddhipur Nepal. The hypotheses being investigated are that preliminary struvite precipitation prevents clogging during drip fertigation with urine and that drip-fertigation with urine is superior to bucket spreading, because the ammonia volatilization is strongly reduced.


Reference icon

NPSI (Editor) (2005): Subsurface irrigation. Factsheet. Canberra: NPSI. URL [Accessed: 12.07.2010].


Reference icon

PALADA, M.; BHATTARAI, S.; WU, D.; ROBERTS, M.; BHATTARAI, M.; KIMSAN, R.; MIDMORE, D. (2011): More Crop Per Drop. Using Simple Drip Irrigation Systems for Small-scale Vegetable Production. Shanhua, Tainan: AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center. URL [Accessed: 18.01.2012].

Simple low-cost drip irrigation is practical and affordable for smallholder farmers. It has been successfully used in India and is becoming more popular in other southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It can reduce both water and labor use by as much as 20-50%. Yield of vegetables also can be increased by at least 10%. Our farm trials in Cambodia showed yield increases of 20-50% compared to traditional hand watering. Low pressure irrigation is also a key component of the African Market Garden concept jointly developed in west Africa with ICRISAT. This 10-chapter drip irrigation manual provides basic, step-by-step procedures for installing simple drip irrigation systems for different crops, climates, and soils.


Reference icon

PESCOD, M.B. (1992): Wastewater Treatment and Use in Agriculture. (= FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper , 47). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). URL [Accessed: 25.10.2011].

This Irrigation and Drainage Paper is intended to provide guidance to national planners and decision-makers, agricultural and municipal managers, field engineers and scientists, health and agricultural field workers, wastewater treatment plant operators and farmers. Consequently, it covers a broad range of relevant material, some in considerable depth but some more superficially. It is meant to encourage the collection, treatment and use of wastewater in agriculture in a safe manner, with maximum advantage taken of this resource. Informal, unplanned and unorganized wastewater use is not recommended, nor is it considered adviseable from the health or agricultural points of view.


Reference icon

RICHERT, A.; GENSCH, R.; JOENSSON, H.; STENSTROEM, T.A.; DAGERSKOG, L. (2010): Practical Guidance on the Use of Urine in Crop Production. (= EcoSanRes Publication Series, Report No. 2010-1). Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). URL [Accessed: 20.07.2010].

This practical guideline on the use of urine in agricultural productions gives some background information on basic plant requirements and how they can be met with urine as a liquid fertiliser.

See document in FRENCH, SPANISH


Reference icon

SHOCK, C. (2006): Drip Irrigation: An Introduction. Corvallis: Oregon State University. URL [Accessed: 23.06.2011].

A document about drip irrigation system including components, design advices, management of the system and additional resources.


Reference icon

WHO (Editor) (2006): Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater. Volume IV. Excreta and Greywater Use in Agriculture. Geneva: World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 26.02.2010].

Volume IV of the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater recognizes the reuse potential of wastewater and excreta (including urine) in agriculture and describes the present state of knowledge as regards potential health risks associated with the reuse as well as measures to manage these health risks following a multi-barrier approach.


Reference icon

WINPENNY, J.; HEINZ, I.; KOO-OSHIMA, S.; SALGOT, M.; COLLADO, J.; HERNANDEZ, F.; TORRICELLI, R. (2010): The Wealth of Waste. The Economics of Wastewater Use in Agriculture. (= FAO Water Reports , 35). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This report presents an economic framework for the assessment of the use of reclaimed water in agriculture, as part of a comprehensive planning process in water resource allocation strategies to provide for a more economically efficient and sustainable water utilization.


Reference icon

ZANDEE, M. (2012): Risk of Clogging of Drip-Line Emitters during Urine Fertilization through Drip Irrigation Equipment. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 04.04.2014].


Reference icon

ROSE, C. ; PARKER, A.; JEFFERSON, B.; CARTMELL, E. (2015): The Characterization of Feces and Urine: A Review of the Literature to Inform Advanced Treatment Technology. In: Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 45, 1827-1879.Taylor and Francis. URL [Accessed: 25.11.2015].

Development of on-site sanitation facilities that treat excreta require knowledge of the waste stream entering the system. This paper contains data regarding the generation rate and the chemical and physical composition of fresh feces and urine. In addition, the impact on biological and thermal processes, physical separators, and chemical reactions is also assessed.


Case Studies Library

Reference icon

ANDERSSON, L. (2005): Low-Cost Drip Irrigation. On Farm Implantation in South Africa. Lulea: Lulea University of Technology . URL [Accessed: 23.06.2011].

Small-scale rural farmers’ perceptions, attitudes and preferences of low-cost drip irrigation systems were investigated through a series of interviews conducted before, during and following their use of such systems. Responses were analysed to determine the technological, socioeconomic and cultural suitability of the systems.


Reference icon

BAMUTAZE, A.B.N.; BABIRYE, V. (2013): Drip Irrigation and Fertigation Prospective. A Case Study of Cabbage Growing at the ATC, Mukono District. Mukono: Appropriate Technology Centre (ATC) for Water and Sanitation. URL [Accessed: 21.10.2013].

The study aimed at assessing the feasibility of using urine as a fertilizer and drip irrigation technology to address food scarcity that has hit Uganda as a country of late. The study revealed high rates of return for a farmer who chooses to practice drip irrigation and fertigation. This however gives best results with effective disease control.


Reference icon

GERMER, J.; KANGNING, X. (2009): Urine diversion sanitation in Olympic Forest Park. (= SuSanA - Case Studies). Eschborn: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA). URL [Accessed: 07.07.2010].

Urine diversion low-flush toilets where installed in public toilet blocks of the Olympic park. Urine was collected for reuse and brownwater was treated in a septic tank and moving bed reactor before being transformed into compost. The aim of the system was to interlink the sanitation material flows as a water and nutrient source with the green areas of the park as a water and nutrient sink. Reduced water and energy demand as well as the substitution of fertilizer by urine and faeces-derived manure were expected advantages.


Reference icon

HOLMER; ROBERT J. (2003): Water Management Strategies for Year Round Vegetable Production in Cagayan de Oro City. (= Paper presented at the MILAMDEC Vegetable Training Seminar, Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City Philippines, March 12, 2003). URL [Accessed: 13.08.2010].

This paper contains information about strategies on how to manage water for a year-round production using fertigation as one of the options.


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MUELLEGGER, E. (Editor); LANGERGRABER, G. (Editor) (2012): Water Reuse. Vienna: EcoSan Club. URL [Accessed: 18.07.2012].

To meet the challenges extremely efficient water use is necessary to achieve overall improvements in water productivity. Multi-use systems will therefore be crucial in integrated water management. Different examples show how water can be reused and recycled and thus increasing water efficiency in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Issue 11 of Sustainable Sanitation Practice (SSP) on „Water reuse“ shows 3 examples for the use of treated wastewater for irrigation in agriculture: (1.) The first paper presents results from a long-term study (agricultural wastewater reuse) carried out in Sicily, Italy. (2.) The second paper presents activities on water management in the Oasis of Figuig, Morocco. (3.) The third paper presents practical experiences from a feasibility study on technology selection for wastewater treatment and effluent reuse schemes in Anza village, Palestine.


Reference icon

PALRECHA, A.; KAPOOR, D.; MALLADI, T. (2012): Wastewater irrigation in Gujarat: An exploratory study. (= Water Policy Research Highlight, 30). Gujarat, India: IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program. URL [Accessed: 15.01.2013].

Sewage farming, as it is called by farmers, is the use of untreated or partially treated wastewater for irrigation. This paper explores the prevalance of wastewater use and also the benefits and threats posed by this practice. Wastewater reuse conserves fresh water and nutrients, is inexpensive, and reduces pollution of water systems. The paper brings out several recommendations by farmers to increase the benefits of this system, one of which is planning STPs to maximise the amount of land that can be cultivated.


Reference icon

RODDA, N.; CARDEN, K.; ARMITAGE, N.; PLESSIS, H.M. du (2011): Development of Guidance for Sustainable Irrigation Use of Greywater In Gardens and Small-Scale Agriculture in South Africa. Pretoria: Water Research Commission (WRC). URL [Accessed: 11.05.2012].

There are presently no formal guidelines for the use of greywater in South Africa. This paper presents the rationale and framework of a guidance document for the sustainable use of greywater to irrigate gardens and small-scale agriculture in South Africa, developed under the auspices of the Water Research Commission.


Reference icon

SAKELLARIOU-MAKRANTONAKI, M.; KALFOUNTZOS, D.; VYRLAS, P. (2002): Water Saving and Yield Increase of Sugar Beet with Subsurface Drip Irrigation. In: Global Nest: the International Journal 4, 85 -91.

This paper describes the subsurface drip irrigation technique in order to save water and increase the yield.


Reference icon

SIJALI, I.V. (2001): Drip Irrigation Options for Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. Stockholm: Sida's Regional Land Management Unit. URL [Accessed: 29.02.2012].

Smallholder farmers in the semi-arid regions of eastern and southern Africa have to depend on erratic, unreliable and low rainfall for their livelihoods. Subsistence staple food crops are generally grown under rainfed conditions. Consequently there is a growing interest in complementing this risky rainfed food production with cultivation of high-value vegetable crops and fruits. But in most cases this means these small-scale vegetable gardens and orchards must be irrigated in order to assure an economic return. Drip irrigation methods minimize the non-productive water losses associated with conventional irrigation, e.g. from evaporation and soil runoff, and thus can make more efficient use of the already minimal water supplies in these arid areas. But until recently drip irrigation technology had been associated with costly investments available only to large commercial farmers. Now there is growing interest in the technique and many efforts are being made around the world to develop low-cost, simple, drip irrigation systems suitable for smallholder farmers. This handbook presents some of these drip irrigation options that can be promoted by extension officers in eastern and southern Africa. It describes the most interesting small-scale low-cost drip irrigation methods of which the author and the other contributors have practical experience. It also gives a brief overview of methods that have been used successfully in other parts of the world with details of how to obtain further information about them or order equipment.


Awareness Raising Material Library

Reference icon

IMAS, P. (2005): Fertigation: Optimizing the Utilization of Water and Nutrients. (= Fertigation Proceedings: Selected papers presented at the joint IPI-NATESC-CAU CAAS International Symposium on Fertigation Optimizing the utilization of water and nutrients Beijing). URL [Accessed: 13.08.2010].

The papers in these proceedings demonstrate the many uses of fertigation and highlight the opportunities created by effectively managing water and nutrients.


Reference icon

EUBIA (Editor) (2008): Short Rotation Plantations: Opportunities for Efficient Biomass Production with the Safe Application of Wastewater and Sewage Sludge. Brussels: European Biomass Industry Association (EUBIA). URL [Accessed: 04.08.2010].

This two-page factsheet by the European Biomass Industry Association gives a brief and concise overview on the topic of Short Rotation Plantations. Especially the benefits of this technology are highlighted.


Reference icon

EAWAG (Editor); Khoang Development Forum (KDF) (Editor) (2011): How to Use Urine in Drip Irritation. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This factsheet gives information on the use of urine in drip irrigation.


Training Material Library

Reference icon

BEWERAGE, K. (2000): Drip Irrigation for Row Crops, Circular 573. New Mexico: New Mexico State University, College of Agriculture and Home Economics. URL [Accessed: 13.08.2010].

This circular is a practical guide for managing drip irrigation systems including fertigation.


Reference icon

FAO (Editor) (1992): Irrigation Manual. Planning, Development Monitoring and Evaluation of Agriculture with Farmer Participation. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This manual, being directed to the irrigation practitioner, does not provide an in-depth analysis of the social, health and environmental aspects in irrigation development. It only attempts to introduce the irrigation practitioner to these areas, providing a bridge between the various disciplines involved in irrigation development.


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IDE (Editor) (n.y.): Simple Drip Irrigation. Golden: International Development Enterprises. URL [Accessed: 30.11.2011].

This PDF-presentation shows photos of drip system components and installations in Nepal.


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IDE (Editor) (n.y.): Technical Manual for Ideal Micro Irrigation Systems. Golden: International Development Enterprises. URL [Accessed: 30.11.2011].

This manual features comprehensive parts lists and instructions for assembling low-cost drip irrigation systems.


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RCSD (Editor) (2008): Low Cost Drip Irrigation Manual. Assam: Resources Centre for Sustainable Development (RCSD). URL [Accessed: 01.01.1970].

This two-page paper manual describes the low-cost drip irrigation.


Important Weblinks

www.eawag.ch [Accessed: 15.12.2011]

Webpage on drip irrigation (with urine) from Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology or Eawag which is doing research on this topic mainly in Nepal.

http://www.fao.org/ [Accessed: 23.06.2011]

This website is an attempt to distil current information on irrigation methods that might be appropriate, and to offer some ideas on the possible adoption and adaptation of such methods by small-scale farmers in the semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

http://www.infonet-biovision.org

Water for irrigation: different irrigation techniques and tips for using water for irrigation

http://www.smart-fertilizer.com/ [Accessed: 24.06.2011]

This website contains a short description of drip irrigations systems.