Effects of fertilizer types on biofilm growth in the drip irrigation system using the reclaimed water

Abstract

Multiple substances in the reclaimed water would be easily coupled with the effective components of fertilizers applied in the drip irrigation system when reusing it in the farmland, making the drip irrigation emitters extremely easy to be clogged, and the mechanism becoming more complex. However, the effects of different fertilizer types on emitters clogging using the reclaimed water and the influential mechanism were not clear yet. Based on these, this paper systematically studied how would different types of fertilizers affect the biofilm growth within drip irrigation emitters through the indoor controllable simulation experiment. Three kinds of reclaimed water sources were applied as replications. The results showed that biofilm components (solid particles, SP; phospholipid fatty acid, PLFAs; extracellular polymeric substance, EPS) in different fertilizer treatments gradually increased during the 80 days operation. They grew relatively slowly for the first 40 days and much more rapidly in the following 40 days. Taking the most commonly used ammonium bicarbonate fertilizer (AB) as the controlled treatment (CK), merely the SP, PLFAs and EPS contents of the ammonium sulfate (AS) treatments increased by 2.94%, 10.8% and 1.34%, respectively. And the biofilm components in all other fertilizer treatments mentioned above were reduced, although the decreasing extents of potassium sulfate (PS) and calcium superphosphate (CS) treatments were not as significant as those of the urea phosphate (UP) and monopotassium phosphate (MP) treatments. This was closely related to the acidic solution conditions, which resulted in weaker adhesion abilities of the latter two fertilizers. Compared to SP, PLFAs and EPS contents in the AB fertilizer treatment, MP treatment reduced by 14.9%, 16.1% and 21.8%, respectively. Despite their differences, significant linear correlations of biofilm components were all observed among six fertilizer treatments (R2 > 0.98, p < 0.05). From the perspective of effective control in biofilms’ accumulation, UP and MP were more suitable for drip irrigation system using the reclaimed water. The results obtained in this study could offer reliable guidance for appropriate fertilizer selection when reusing the reclaimed water in the drip irrigation systems.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the financial support from the Science and Technology Project of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps of China (2020DB004) and National Natural Science Fundation of China (51621061).

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Correspondence to Bo Zhou or Feipeng Xu.

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Wang, Y., Zhou, B., Zhang, J. et al. Effects of fertilizer types on biofilm growth in the drip irrigation system using the reclaimed water. Irrig Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00271-021-00738-y

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