Reed-beds absorb sprayer chemicals
REED-beds could offer environmentally sound alternatives to artificial bio-beds for overcoming sprayer waste disposal problems, according to Oceans Environmental Engineering.
Reed-beds to absorb and de-toxify the chemicals in contaminated waste water from industrial plants are widely used in other industries throughout the world, says the West Yorks-based firm.
One UK user is the former ICI Chemicals plant now run by Air Products at Billingham. "It is used mainly to remove a chemically complex effluent," says Oceans Sarah Nelson. "Agricultural effluent will be less demanding."
Others beds treat coke oven waste water at British Steels Llanwern plant in Wales and the effluent from a textile factory in Leeds, she says.
Project manager Helen Fazakerley is keen to encourage farmers to invest in bio-technology solutions. DTI grants are already on offer to help farmers who process food overcome waste disposal problems using the technique, she says.
"Other sources of funding are currently available to examine the possibility of setting up joint EU research projects with Spain and Portugal to deal with farm waste. We are looking for farm partners."
Initially these are likely to explore the potential of treating livestock wastes. But Miss Fazakerley does not rule out the possibility of treating sprayer waste.
"Soil-based reed-beds are very flexible," she says. They provide an environment where a wide range of organic chemicals can be broken down and eventually mineralised by bacteria and fungi.
But to achieve a system that reaches its full potential can take two growing seasons, and correct design and construction is important, she advises. *
• Chemical waste treatment.
• Widely used in other industries.
• Grants available.
• Design and build important.