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Agriculture  2012 

Potential of Waste Water Use for Jatropha Cultivation in Arid Environments

DOI: 10.3390/agriculture2040376

Keywords: Jatropha curcas L., sewage water, salinity, Morocco, irrigation requirement, N-P-K balance

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Abstract:

Water is crucial for socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems. With the actual population growth and in view of future water scarcity, development calls for improved sectorial allocation of groundwater and surface water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Instead of intensifying the pressure on water resources, leading to conflicts among users and excessive pressure on the environment, sewage effluents, after pre-treatment, provide an alternative nutrient-rich water source for agriculture in the vicinity of cities. Water scarcity often occurs in arid and semiarid regions affected by droughts and large climate variability and where the choice of crop to be grown is limited by the environmental factors. Jatropha has been introduced as a potential renewable energy resource since it is claimed to be drought resistant and can be grown on marginal sites. Sewage effluents provide a source for water and nutrients for cultivating jatropha, a combined plant production/effluent treatment system. Nevertheless, use of sewage effluents for irrigation in arid climates carries the risk of salinization. Thus, potential irrigation with sewage effluents needs to consider both the water requirement of the crop and those needed for controlling salinity build-up in the top soil. Using data from a case study in Southern Morocco, irrigation requirements were calculated using CROPWAT 8.0. We present here crop evapotranspiration during the growing period, required irrigation, the resulting nutrient input and the related risk of salinization from the irrigation of jatropha with sewage effluent.

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