Treated sewagewater use in irrigated agriculture : theoretical design of farming systems in Seil Al Zarqa and the Middle Jordan Valley in Jordan

M.M. Duqqah

    Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


    <FONT FACE="Garamond"><p>Most of Jordan is arid and water resources are limited. This situation becomes more acute the more Jordan develops. New techniques in agriculture, industry and the domestic sector place an increasing demand upon clean and safe water. Good-quality water is hardly available. Unconventional water sources, including treated sewagewater, must be considered as alternative sources. This book focuses on treated sewagewater as a nutrient and water resource for agriculture. We expect that treated sewagewater use in agriculture will minimise farmers' demand for clean, purified, and therefore expensive, water and for chemical fertilisers.</p><p>Treated sewagewater use in agriculture maintains environmental quality. Also other national goals, such as the creation of sustainable agriculture and the protection of scarce water sources, are thus served. Another advantage is the possibility of decreasing the necessary purification level. Costs for treatment, thanks to the role of soil and crops in acting as a bio-filter, will thus decrease. Moreover, using the nutrients present in treated sewagewater may diminish fertilisation costs. But disadvantages should also be considered. Treated sewagewater use in irrigation could be hazardous to the environment, since the influent, and hence the effluent, contains pollutants such as macro-organic matter, trace elements, pathogenic micro-organisms and ions.</p><p>Use of treated sewagewater in Jordan is not a new idea. Advantages and disadvantages should be studied. However, what kind of research is then needed? Most scientific approaches in research are done under objectified, controlled conditions. Such experiments do not reflect the everyday reality of the farmers. Moreover, experimental research in agriculture does not always reflect the interests of Jordanian farmers. Another type of research is therefore needed. We need research that integrates Gamma and Beta sciences, farmers and scientists, and the environment and agricultural production. Prototyping, a mix of experimental farm research and agronomic designing is an answer to those needs. The technique has been used successfully in almost all European countries. The question was therefore, "why not be tested and used in Jordanian conditions"?</p><p>We focused on designing, testing and improving theoretical prototypes of treated sewagewater using farms. A pilot group of six farmers was formed in three different zones of the study area, with a selection of six different crops (Alfalfa, Apricot, Tomato, Cucumber, Onion and Potato). Lessons, methods, techniques and recommendations gained from many experiments done on treated sewagewater use in crop production in Mediterranean countries were integrated and introduced into farming methods. Farmers started the conversion process and learned how to deal with treated sewagewater for irrigation. The purpose of this study is to design treated sewagewater using farms and to teach farmers to rely on their own skills and information. So not only hard knowledge became involved. The training of farmers and the developing of their managerial skills also became part of the problem statement. In particular, we created a situation of farm system research. Farmers had to do the job, facilitated by researchers. Farmer and facilitator tried to find a new balance between economical and socio-environmental goals.</p><strong><p>Chapter 1</strong> looks at the consequences of Jordan's water shortages as a result of domestic, agricultural and industrial consumption . This chapter explores the actions recommended in the Dublin statement to overcome the over-consumption and pollution as well as the Jordan's law of Environmental Protection for the formulation of an effective environmental policy. It also shows the urgency in developing WASTEVAL programme for capacity building at the counterpart institutes in the Netherlands, Jordan, Egypt and the West Bank concerning wastewater valorisation for agricultural production in the Middle East area by using low-cost treatment technologies. This chapter concludes that designing treated sewagewater using farms must bring different stakeholders together. Policy-makers and planners who set the conditions for water purification must also be involved. As the WASTEVAL programme is about research and education concerning water scarcity in Middle East countries and this book especially reports about research results obtained in Jordan, we had to begin with describing Jordan's actual water deficit.</p><p>The <strong>second chapter</strong> acquaints the reader among others, that limited clean water resources presented the main constraint for agricultural development. The deficit between supply and demand was 307 million m <sup>3</SUP>in 1998 and is projected to increase to 360 million m <sup>3</SUP>in 2020. At the same time, treated sewagewater will increase from 67 million m <sup>3</SUP>in 1998 to 232 million m <sup>3</SUP>in 2020. Chapter 2 gives the reader a sense of urgency: somebody must do something and quickly in order to stop the increasing shortage of clean water of Jordan. Agronomic, environmental, legislative and socio-cultural aspects of treated sewagewater are presented. It is shown that a farming system that could adequately address these aspects requires: integration of agro-technical, agro-ecological and agro-economical knowledge, joint agreement on normative objectives among stakeholders, and empirical team work to test, adapt and refine those farms under real commercial conditions and the promotion of the concept for rural development. Chapter 2 also demonstrates that among the all water users of Jordan, the agricultural sector is the most serious one. Jordanian agriculture, as big polluter of natural resources, according the 'polluter pays' principle, must learn as first how to produce well by low application levels of synthetic agro-chemicals. Stimulating the agricultural sector to use treated sewagewater for irrigation purposes only could redress the very negative water balance of Jordan. But first, the marginality of Jordanian farming, high production level demand of commodities for export and consumers not willing to pay more for their food, must be overcome.</p><p>In <strong>Chapter 3</strong> attention is given to the theoretical framework which addresses the co-operation and responsibilities of treated sewagewater producing and using sectors. Chapter 3 shows a model for how Jordanian farmers could be involved in decreasing their water use and pollution during crop production. It is assumed that sewagewater, after certain pre-treatment, carries along sufficient nutrients that could function as fertiliser and as water dose during primary production. As a consequence, supply of chemical fertiliser could be reduced considerably. Three advantages thus emerge. Cost for sewagewater cleaning becomes lower, the variable costs of farmers decrease and water demand of the agricultural sector moves from clean (cleansed or natural) water to treated sewagewater. The model assumes that aforementioned advantages just appear when the treated sewagewater producing and using sectors work together. Co-operation leads to harmonisation of end terms for quality goals of sewagewater, to recognition and accepting each other's working procedures and to cohesion among investments for intake and distribution of sewagewater. Co-operation will also lead to effective sharing of knowledge, sharing of concepts and definitions as well as to efficient regulation and the control over it. Co-operation will not come into being by itself. Both sectors are much too different for that. Therefore the model assumes that the government must facilitate such a co-operation.</p><strong><p>Chapter 4</strong> translates the theoretical framework from chapter 3 in six research questions that had to be addressed during project's time. Each of them becomes answered in the chapters 5 to 10. Those chapters are set up as if they were separate publications. The reader will notice that between them some overlap may be found. That was, considering the holistic approach of this research unavoidable. On the other hand overlap also indicates that our approach of the problem statement from chapter 3 happened in an integrated way.</p><strong><p>Chapter 5</strong> is about the way we looked for a suitable research site. Selected study areas had to offer conditions for concerted research by facilitated farmers. Three zones were identified. Each of them represented different levels of treated sewagewater quality and has sufficient conditions for the collection of reliable information about how farmers could use treated sewagewater for plant production. This provided comparative information on the potentials of treated sewagewater use in Jordan. Concerning the participation of farmers in the three different zones of our research area, I conclude that farmers were willing to co-operate on my terms (participation for the full duration of research, prepared to attend regular meetings with colleagues and researchers, and willing to provide data for publication). Furthermore, I found a serious gap between the perception of what scientists see as farmers' problems and what farmers themselves see as their problems. It was good to know this from the outset, as this knowledge made us consistently aware of our attitude towards farmers. I decided to act as an interrogator, rather than as a specialist who gives answers to questions never raised. I considered the farmer a relevant source of knowledge.</p><strong><p>Chapter 6</strong> shows what consequences of working with farmers on their fields had to taken into account when starting the research. A conceptual model is presented in this chapter showing the steps that farmers and researchers have to go through during the whole research process. The farmers accepted the model as they feel that they got a clear place in the process. This chapter also presents a decision platform model where researcher and farmer learn to work together. The platform function as a school where farmers are trained in becoming better observers and managers of their land and researchers are trained in relying on farmers' experiences.</p><strong><p>Chapter 7</strong> outlines the suitability of treated sewagewater for irrigation in the study area by using different parameters like electrical conductivity of water (EC <sub>w</sub> ), total dissolved solid values, sodium adsorption ratio, ion toxicity, total nitrogen and total phosphorus values, pH and microbiological quality. The suitability of treated sewagewater was assessed, based on World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) guidelines. The potential hazards in relation to public health and irrigation use were identified. The Jordanian regulations governing treated sewagewater use were reviewed, and necessary management practices outlined. An assessment of treated sewagewater for manuring purposes and the salination effects involved are also presented. Chapter 7 demonstrates that treated sewagewater may cover crop demands on nutrients and water, without chemical fertiliser supply.</p><strong><p>Chapter 8</strong> outlines the three sources of information used to conduct an informal survey, namely, regional stakeholders, literature and field observation. Chapter 8 presents how small-scaled farmers in the research site redesigned their farms in a way that they could use treated sewagewater safe and well. This design is based on the prototyping technique used in many European countries. It also outlines the processes for establishing:</p><UL><LI>The objectives of treated sewagewater using farms to be achieved in the future. A diagnosis of the existing situation of treated sewagewater use was made first. Besides this, the targeted contribution of the designed prototype in the long-term improvement of the treated sewagewater use situation in the area will be determined. The diagnosis and grading of objectives (prioritisation) should therefore be done in collaboration with the major actors involved in treated sewagewater use, and after careful examination of all available resources, agro-technology, experiences and knowledge.</LI><LI>The translation and quantification of the objectives into suitable parameters. It is based on the careful examination and selection of parameters related to the objectives and the production system, and determines the quantification of the objectives of treated sewagewater use in irrigation. The criterion of being integrated in, or being indispensable to, a single objective was used for the parameter selection. In this way, the quantified objectives can be used as desired results, to evaluate the achieved results of the treated sewagewater use in irrigation prototypes. This step provides eleven parameters for treated sewagewater use.</LI><LI>Relevant farming methods and techniques. The farming methods are nutrient management, water management and farm structure optimisation.</LI><LI>Theoretical prototype. The theoretical prototype should secure the inter-linking of the new methods at all crop production levels: physical, biological-agronomic, product-market, and farm level. Otherwise objectives would not be achieved and the sustainability and productivity of the crop will be adversely effected.</LI><LI>Testing of new farm designs in pilot farms.</LI></UL><p>The initial results of practical application are presented. Practical application of the prototypes showed that participant farmers need a lot of training and data. Initial results clearly show that our design needs further improvement by progressive retesting procedures. Initial results also show the impact of former conventional farming methods. Farmers acquired a greater understanding about the damage which current agro-technological methods cause to relevant natural resources, as well as to their future prospects of farming. Many retesting cycles are required to get rid of the negative impacts of current agro-technological methods.</p><p>The last part of the study outlines the main elements for a strategy of prototype improvement. Chapter 9 presents strengths and weakness analysis concerning the redesigned farms. This chapter also presents a simple SWOT analysis to study and explore further development of treated sewagewater prototype in Jordan. The results of this analysis were formulated in terms of desired government policy, research and extension services. This chapter concluded that farmers can only progress if they work for the development of certification systems that they initiate and manage themselves. Chapter 10 shows the role of stakeholders in safe use of treated sewagewater on farms. This chapter emphasis on the co-operation between the treated sewagewater producing and using sector. The study ends with a conclusion and recommendations regarding the proposed approach for treated sewagewater use in irrigated agriculture (chapter 11).
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Wageningen University
    • Goewie, E.A., Promotor
    • Shatanawi, M., Promotor, External person
    • Huibers, F.P., Promotor, External person
    Award date3 Dec 2002
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • irrigated farming
    • waste water
    • waste water treatment
    • salinity
    • farming systems
    • jordan

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