Treatment of agricultural drainagewater by surface-flow wetlands paired with woodchip bioreactors

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Nutrient losses from agricultural fields have long been a matter of concern worldwide due to the ecological disturbance this can cause to surface waters downstream. In this paper a new design concept, which pairs a surface-flow constructed wetland (SFW) with a woodchip bioreactor (WB), was tested in relation to its capacity to reduce both nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loads from agricultural tile drainage water. A nutrient mass balance and a comparative analysis were carried out together with statistical regressions in order to evaluate the performance of four SFW+WBs under different catchment conditions. We found marked variations between the systems in regard to hydraulic loading rate (0.0 to 5.0 m/day) and hydraulic retention time (1 to 87 days). The paired system worked as nutrient sinks throughout the study period. Total N and total P removal efficiencies varied from 8% to 51% and from 0% to 80%, respectively. The results support the use of the new design concept for nutrient removal from tile-drained agricultural catchments in Denmark as part of national management plans, with the added advantage that smaller areas are needed for construction (0.1% to 0.2% of the catchment area) in comparison to standalone and currently used SCWs (~1%).

TidsskriftWater (Switzerland)
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2020

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