A feasibility study of a Salix viminalis gravel hydroponic system to renovate primary settled wastewater

Catherine Mant, John Peterkin, Eric May, John Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A Salix viminalis/gravel system based on hydroponics was developed for wastewater renovation in order to avoid the problems of soil damage and pollution associated with long-term application of wastewater to soil. For such a system to work the mineral elements applied must match closely the requirements of the tree species. To examine this the growth and nutrient uptake of S. viminalis in wastewater was compared with that in Long Ashton nutrient solution (1/4 strength). S. viminalis grew more slowly in wastewater than in Long Ashton solution, but exhibited no obvious deficiency or toxicity symptoms. Since industrial wastewaters often contain metals, the extent to which copper might inhibit wastewater treatment in this system was also examined. S. viminalis was grown in wastewater amended with 10 and 100 ppm copper. Trees were unaffected by wastewater with 10 ppm copper when compared to trees grown in wastewater alone. Wastewater containing with 100 ppm copper was too toxic for the trees to thrive and wastewater treatment was reduced. Treatment efficiencies for unamended wastewater were 57.7% for nitrogen, 90.6% for phosphorus and 24.9% for potassium. These efficiencies are much greater than those quoted for a Salix/soil system, and thus Salix/gravel systems may have potential for wastewater treatment in environmentally sensitive areas or situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


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