Use of Duckweed, Bentonite and Acid to Improve Water Quality of Effluent Discharge from Abattoirs

  • Goopy, J.P. (School of Animal Studies, The University of Queensland) ;
  • Murray, P.J. (School of Animal Studies, The University of Queensland) ;
  • Lisle, A.T. (School of Agronomy and Horticulture, The University of Queensland) ;
  • Al Jassim, R.A.M. (School of Animal Studies, The University of Queensland)
  • Received : 2003.09.30
  • Accepted : 2004.04.08
  • Published : 2004.08.01


Intensive animal industries create large volumes of nutrient rich effluent, which, if untreated, has the potential for substantial environmental degradation. Aquatic plants in aerobic lagoon systems have the potential to achieve inexpensive and efficient remediation of effluent, and to recover valuable nutrients that would otherwise be lost. Members of the family Lemnaceae (duckweeds) are widely used in lagoon systems, but despite their widespread use in the cleansing of sewage, only limited research has been conducted into their growth in highly eutrophic media, and little has been done to systematically distinguish between different types of media. This study examined the growth characteristics of duckweed in abattoir effluent, and explored possible ways of ameliorating the inhibitory factors to growth on this medium. A series of pot trials was conducted to test the tolerance of duckweed to abattoir effluent partially remediated by a sojourn in anaerobic fermentation ponds, both in its unmodified form, and after the addition of acid to manipulate pH, and the addition of bentonite. Unmodified abattoir effluent was highly toxic to duckweed, although duckweed remained viable and grew sub optimally in media with total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentrations of up to 100 mg/l. Duckweed also grew vigorously in effluent diluted 1:4 v/v, containing 56 mg TAN/L and also modified by addition of acid to decrease pH to 7 and by adding bentonite (0.5%).


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