In Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and other major cities in New Mexico, nearly every public golf course is now watered with treated municipal wastewater rather than precious potable water supplies. Across the U.S. Southwest as a whole, more than 40% of all golf courses receive treated effluent. Reusing the effluent increases the sustainability of golf courses.
Additionally, golf courses and homeowners alike fertilize their lawns during the growing season. The major nutrient in fertilizer is nitrate. A New Mexico State University turfgrass expert has a new vision for even more efficiency.
These are ReNUWIt turfgrass test plots at New Mexico State University. Cool-season tall fescue (top row) and warm-season grasses bottom half. Grasses irrigated with tailored water on right side, plots on the left side are irrigated with potable water and fertilized with calcium nitrate.
Credit: Bernd Leinauer, New Mexico State University
Bernd Leinauer, a turfgrass expert at New Mexico State University, suggests combining "fertigation," drip irrigation, and decentralized water treatment. In a paper published in the journal Crop Science, he and co-author Elena Sevostianova detail their modern-day recipe for a lush, green lawn.
Leinauer says combining the three approaches could solve several issues. Right now, many big New Mexico cities remove nearly all the nitrate from wastewater all the time. That's an expensive and energy-intensive step designed to prevent pollution of surface- and ground- waters. "But from a turf perspective that doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Leinauer says, since golf course managers (and homeowners) end up applying mineral nitrate fertilizers to keep turf thriving.
Fertigation is a method of supplying fertilizers to plants through irrigation water (fertilize and irrigate at the same time). Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots underground, instead of sprinkling plants from above.
In Leinauer's and Sevostianova's vision, a decentralized treatment system at a subdivision would be "tailored" to generate effluent during the summer that contained 15 parts per million (ppm) of the nutrient nitrate. Residents would then use this water to fertigate their lawns. Because drip systems put water directly into the soil, Leinauer says, homeowners wouldn't come in contact with it.
"Why not leave the nitrate in the water?" Leinauer asks, "Then the effluent already contains a fertilizer that the golf course operator [or homeowner] doesn't have to buy" or manage. The tailored water from the decentralized treatment system makes this feasible. "The overall idea is to combine subsurface, drip irrigation with tailored water: water with nutrient levels tailored for the summer versus the winter."
Will re-using this high-nitrate content water cause problems? Will the nitrate seep into the subsoil, and eventually to groundwater? Leinauer is now studying this at a test facility.
So far, results are good. Turf plots drip-irrigated with tailored water are just as green and healthy as those receiving potable water and mineral fertilizers, Leinauer says. The researchers also see little evidence of greater nitrate loss from the fertigated, drip-irrigated plots.
Still, he cautions, the results are preliminary and there are other challenges to address. For example, wastewater effluent tends to be high in salt. These problems must be solved, though, as water supplies continue to decline. In New Mexico, for example, demands on potable water from agriculture and a growing populace are so great that "basically the only water left for the landscape is treated effluent," Leinauer says. But the issue is hardly unique to his region. Leinauer hopes researchers around the country will embark on similar studies.
"We're doing our part here in the Southwest, but our region is completely different from, let's say, New England, or the Midwest," he says. "So, these questions need to be investigated more thoroughly on a regional basis."
To access the paper, visit: doi: 10.2135/cropsci2014.01.0014
Susan Fisk | Eurek Alert!
Alkaline soil, sensible sensor
03.08.2017 | American Society of Agronomy
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences