New Delhi : Under Indo-EU ‘Water4crops’ project, crops like okra, brinjal and chilly irrigated with treated wastewater as compared to fresh water have shown increased in crop yield. The project integrates bio-treated wastewater reuse with enhanced water-use efficiency to support the green economy in EU and India. The Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (DWT) approach is being implemented and popularised at 28 sites in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. As a result of this initiative, the chemical and biological oxygen demand in wastewaters has reduced by 30-92 per cent.
Moreover, crop yield evaluations have shown increased yields of the order of 14 to 40 per cent for crops like okra, brinjal and chilly irrigated with treated wastewater as compared to fresh water. In addition to increased yields, the secondary treatment of waste water for agriculture leads to more tertiary-treated potable water being available for domestic use. The rationale behind developing Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (DWT) is water scarcity. On one hand, direct use of wastewater in agriculture is not good for farmers and consumers and on the other, disposal of untreated wastewater pollutes the environment. Moreover, all localities do not have sewage treatment plants.
Hence the ‘Water4Crops’ project provides an opportunity to efficiently utilise low-quality industrial, domestic and municipal wastewater by facilitating the development of various technologies for wastewater treatment at the local scale and its feasible use in agriculture. The project has shown remarkable success by aiding the construction of wetlands containing plant species such as Canna indica, lemon grass (Cymbopogon), napier (Pennisetum perpureum X Pennisetum americarnum), para grass (Urochloa mutica), typha (Typha latifolia), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and a weed species Agaratum Conyzoides.
These plant species absorb harmful toxins as well as nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, inter alia, that contaminate the water due to overuse of chemical fertilizers in the agriculture sector.
Based on pilot studies at ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad and elsewhere, several watersheds have been supported under the Karnataka government’s Bhoo Samrudhi and Rythu Kosam programmes and by some Corporates under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Indo-EU ‘Water4crops’ project has been co-funded by Government of India through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science & Technology and the European Union.