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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Water Management and Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359838

Research Project: The Use of Treated Municipal Waste Water as a Source of New Water for Irrigation

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Title: Applied injected air into subsurface drip irrigation: plant uptake of pharmaceuticals and soil microbial communities

item D'ALESSIO, MATTEO - University Of Nebraska
item Durso, Lisa
item Williams, Clinton
item OLSON, CHRISTOPHER - University Of Nebraska
item RAY, CHITTARANJAN - University Of Nebraska
item PAPAROZZI, ELLEN - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/25/2019
Publication Date: 1/12/2020
Citation: D'Alessio, M., Durso, L.M., Williams, C.F., Olson, C.A., Ray, C., Paparozzi, E.T. 2020. Applied injected air into subsurface drip irrigation: plant uptake of pharmaceuticals and soil microbial communities. Journal of Environmental Engineering. 146(2).

Interpretive Summary: The ability for increased aeration to reduce the fate and uptake of pharmaceuticals was investigated using an air injection system prior to sub surface drip irrigation. The air injection was shown to reduce the concentration of three pharmaceuticals (caffeine, carbamazepine, and gemfibrozil) in the soil and leachate. However, uptake of caffeine and gemfibrozil into lettuce was lower in the air injection treatments but carbamazepine uptake was greater in the air injection treatment. In addition, the air injection resulted in changes in the soil microbial community. Air injection may be a useful point of use treatment technology to reduce the environmental availability of pharmaceuticals.

Technical Abstract: The growing global food security crisis is complicated by the need for increased crop production with less arable land and limited water resources. Reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation is becoming more common, often paired with other conservation measures such as subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Passively injecting air into SDI systems increases crop yields and overcomes root zone wetting issues. However, when used with treated irrigation water, contaminants in the water might be taken up by the crops. This paper investigates the impact of air-injected water containing caffeine, carbamazepine, and gemfibrozil on plant uptake and soil microbial communities in Salanova lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Aerated lettuce yielded higher plant mass and root length. The use of air-injected water reduced the uptake of caffeine and gemfibrozil and increased the uptake of carbamazepine. Gemfibrozil and carbamazepine were primarily detected in leachate, while caffeine was observed in the soil samples. Injected air significantly impacted (p-value<0.001) the fate and transport of gemfibrozil. Injection of pharmaceutically active compounds and the presence/absence of injected-air created a variation in soil microbial communities.