Processing technology for horticultural discharge water

The horticultural sector is confronted with the challenge of reducing the emission of plant protection products in its production process, thus preventing the negative impact on surface water and groundwater. Starting 1 January 2018, a general treatment requirement will come into force, obligating all growers to treat their discharge water for the removal of plant protection products. Treatment installations will need to achieve a minimal treatment efficiency level of 95% based on Standard Water. A small number of oxidation techniques are known to have the capacity to meet this treatment requirement. The effectiveness of other applicable water treatment techniques, which do not involve the formation of by-products, has not been sufficiently studied.

Technology: activated carbon filtration

Previous research has demonstrated that activated carbon filtration is potentially highly appropriate horticultural applications. However, the risks of long-term loading, the suitability of different carbon types, and the removal efficiency during loading are not sufficiently understood.


The objective is to develop activated carbon filtration as a complementary or competing technology with regard to the current treatment techniques for horticultural discharge water. This involves developing insight into the form of implementation, including pre-treatment technology, and an application protocol for activated carbon filtration at both individual and collective scales. In addition, a better understanding will be gained of the behaviour of plant protection products in the Standard Water and of the representativeness of the model substances, and therefore of the possibilities of improving the (cost) effectiveness of the treatment.

Solution for the horticulturalist

The applicability of activated carbon for the removal of plant protection products from discharge water in horticulture is to be determined using a technical desk-study, laboratory research and a practical-scale pilot research. Additionally, further insight will be gained into the speciation of Standard Water.

Subsequently a decision-support tool will be developed to help in the selection of the suitable treatment technology for the discharge-water treatment, and an assessment made of the practicability of the model studies capable of predicting the removability of plant protection products by means of activated carbon filtration.