Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,001
Principal Investigators: Hye-Ji Kim, Chad Penn
Abstract: Elevated nutrient loads from agricultural production sites have been identified as a major contributor to harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the Gulf of Mexico. The nutrient loads from greenhouse and nursery facilities are often overlooked or not sufficiently attended to, although they can play a substantial role in HABs due to the generation of significant amounts of wastewater enriched with high concentrations of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), the environmental pollutants associated with HABs. Greenhouse and nursery producers are challenged to meet the strong demand for sustainably and environmentally-friendly management practices. Phosphorus removal structures have proven to be effective in removing P and other nutrients in wastewater, particularly controlling nonpoint source pollution resulted from animal farms. With a specific design and characteristics suitable for greenhouse and nursery facilities, the structure has a great potential to effectively remove nutrients in the wastewater that are uniquely high in P at ranges from 30 to 300 ppm. During this pilot study, P sorbing materials will be tested for their affinity to P in greenhouse wastewater. Lab experiments will be conducted to generate data, which will be used to develop a predictive model to aid in the development of P removal structure suitable to process greenhouse wastewater with unique chemical properties. The study will be coupled with a testing in the greenhouse with a scaled-up size P removal structure. P removal efficiency along the seasonal variations in capturing P will be determined during the greenhouse testing. This research is significant because it addresses mitigation strategy for nutrient load to the Wabash River Watershed, reducing the prevalence of harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, improving water quality, and reducing the risk to human health.