Adsorptive and biological removal of plant protection products from jointly collected discharge water in greenhouse horticulture

The horticultural sector is faced with a major challenge:  it is obligated to remove at least 95% of the plant protection products from its discharge water. A solution needs to be found that is sustainable and permanent, and that involves low operating costs and a minimal maintenance effort. This project focusses on research into a new treatment concept that will satisfy the standard requirements, which is based on two processes: adsorption and biological treatment.


We aim in this project to develop new knowledge about adsorption and breakdown routes for plant protection products under different practice scenarios. It must clarify which bacteria and microbial communities are affected by these processes, including their ideal growth conditions. We are also investigating the stability of the microbial community over a longer period, and how it deals with environmental fluctuations. This knowledge will permit greenhouse horticulture to take steps toward meeting the requirements for the removal of plant protection products from discharge water.


The drinking water sector has used adsorption for decades to successfully remove micropollutants, including plant protection products, from pre-treated surface water, for the production of high-quality drinking water. And biological treatment has long been used to treat wastewater. This project aims to examine whether this knowledge can also be applied to discharge water in greenhouse horticulture.


The research focuses on the applicability of physical-chemical and biological processes from the field of water technology in greenhouse horticulture. Besides the direct economic and safety benefits, this would also give the sector a greener image, and promote sustainability in the sector as a whole.