Environmental monitoring and assessment

Performance of five plant species in removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from an experimental phytoremediation system in the Ningxia irrigation area.

PMID 28890992


Agricultural non-point source (ANPS) pollution is an important contributor to elevated nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in surface waters, which can cause serious environmental problems. Considerable effort has therefore gone into the development of methods that control the ANPS input of N and P to surface waters. Phytoremediation has been extensively used because it is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and efficient. The N and P loads from agricultural drainage are a potential threat to the water quality of the Yellow River in Ningxia, China. Yet, phytoremediation has only rarely been applied within the Ningxia irrigation area. In an experimental set-up, five species (Ipomoea aquatica, IA; Lactuca sativa, LS; Oryza sativa, OS; Typha latifolia, TL; Zizania latifolia, ZL) were evaluated for their ability to reduce N and P loads over 62 days and five observation periods. Total N and P concentrations, plant biomass, and nutrient content were measured. The results showed that OS, LS, and IA performed better than ZL and TL in terms of nutrients removal, biomass accumulation, and nutrients storage. The highest overall removal rates of N and P (57.7 and 57.3%, respectively) were achieved by LS treatment. In addition, plant uptake contributed significantly to nutrient removal, causing a 25.9-72.0% reduction in N removal and a 54.3-86.5% reduction in P removal. Thus, this study suggests that OS, LS, and IA would be more suitable than ZL and TL for controlling nutrient loads in the Ningxia irrigation area using phytoremediation.