Sewage Farming | Pro and Cons of Sewage Farming | Sewage Sickness
In sewage farming, sewage is used for the irrigation of agricultural lands. This technique is common in warm and arid climates where sources of fresh water are scarce.
This method not only helps in sewage getting disposed of but also helps in the increased crop yield as sewage contains a lot of nutrients. But one thing needs to be confirmed that the effluent is safe for irrigation.
Suspended solids present in the sewage will be converted to humus by microbes and bacteria in order to supply nitrogen, phosphorus and other plant nutrients for crop growth.
Important considerations while sewage farming
The following points must be kept in view while practising sewage farming:
The effect of pathogenic should not spread among the farmworkers nor the consumers of sewage farm products.
The groundwater should be prevented from contamination
There should not be any deterioration of the soil properties.
Now, let's see the advantages and disadvantages of sewage farming.
Advantages of Sewage Farming
It helps in using irrigation of wastewater which would have otherwise been wasted.
Some of the nutrients and organic solids in wastewater can be usefully incorporated into soil and agricultural products which would help in the growth of crops.
If the agricultural lands are at a lower elevation than the sewage treatment plants then using wastewater for irrigation would be economical.
Even though using sewage in farming is cheaper for farmers, yet not many farmers practice sewage farming. Let's see why is that.
Disadvantages of Sewage Farming
The runoff obtained after sewage irrigation of fields may be polluted when precipitation exceeds evaporation and percolation capacity.
The sewage is usually generated at a relatively constant rate, but irrigation is required only during dry weather so over-irrigation in wet periods might cause soils to become septic, sour, or sewage-sick.
Arid climates will allow temporary storage of sewage in holding ponds while the soils dry out during non-growing seasons and such storage may cause odour and insect problems.
In situations like irrigation of fruit trees with the flow in the surface, ditches may involve some risk of pathogen transfer from the sewage to the edible fruit by birds, insects, and similar vectors so the pathogen transfer is more likely to affect the consumers of the crops.
Sometimes, overuse of sewage may lead to a land condition called sewage sickness. Let's look into what the term means.
If sewage is applied continuously on a piece of land, pores or voids of soil are filled up or clogged, free circulation of air is prevented and anaerobic conditions develop.
At this stage, the land is unable to take any further sewage load which causes the organic matter to decompose and foul-smelling gases are emitted from the land.
This phenomenon of soil is known as sewage sickness of the land.
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