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Farmers get clean break from waste


July 7, 2008
By University of Edinburgh

wetlandNEWS HIGHLIGHT

Farmers get clean break from waste

A system that can turn farmyard wastewater into water clean enough to
have a bath in has been developed by University of Edinburgh scientists.

July 7, 2008, Edinburgh, Scotland – A system that can turn farmyard wastewater into water clean enough to have a bath in has been developed by University of Edinburgh scientists.

wetland
Integrated constructed wetland near Waterford (Ireland) treating farmyard runoff.

Picture courtesy Dr Rory Harrington, University of Edinburgh

The eco-friendly system allows for safe storage and treatment of farm dirty water and requires very little maintenance.

The method was developed in cooperation with the Irish Government and backed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The method involves storing the liquids – manure traces and farmyard runoff – in a linked series of outdoor shallow ponds.

Effluents are channeled downhill into the ponds, in which water-borne plants filter out solid particles.

Over time, the waste breaks down into its component minerals and other materials plus some of the waste is taken used as food by the water plants. Other solid particles settle on the bottom of the pond.

Over several days or weeks, the water travels between each of the ponds and becomes clean enough to meet bathing quality standards.

In most cases, water can be discharged from the final pond to a local river, stream, ditch or woodland.
The system, known as an integrated constructed wetland, provides a cheaper and safer alternative to the common practice of spreading dirty water on farmland.

It also prevents loss of contaminants to rivers and lakes, where they may be detrimental to animal or human health.

Additionally, wetlands encourage biodiversity by providing a home for wildlife and adding color and texture to the landscape.


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