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Subirrigation with treated wastewater in Haaksbergen

4 June, 2050

Subirrigation with treated wastewater in Haaksbergen

Landbouw op peil

Waste water source

The effluent stream of the wastewater treatment plant of Haaksbergen was connected to the drainage system of an adjacent maize plot. The climate adaptive drainage system infiltrates water in the belowground via sub irrigation. The water quality of the effluent from the waste water treatment plant of Haaksbergen was comparable to other Duth waste water treatment plants. The concentration met the target values for irrigation water of arable crops and grassland. Nevertheless, no target values for pharmaceutic and biological parameters are defined. The nutrient load supplied with effluent compared to classic agricultural fertilisation represents 10-15% of the N and 20% of the P.

Distribution System

The climate adaptive drainage system through which the effluent water can be infiltrated belowground, is a special adjustable drainage system. The system aims to retain water in the soil of agricultural fields. This is also known as sub-irrigation. There is continuously an online monitoring of the soil water content. The drainage basis can be managed remotely.

Farming system

The experiment took place on a field of silage maize adjacent to the waste water treatment plant.

Waste water treatment description

Nutrient removal : none
Pesticide removal : none
Disinfection : none
Suspended solids removal : none
Other : No further treatment after the WWTP


The sub irrigation experiment started in 2013 where shortly (from April until June) the effluent was connected on the drainage system. The monitoring started in June 2015 until October 2015 with a water supply of 4 mm/day in the drainage system. In the subsequent year, sub-irrigation took place from the 1st of June until the 21st of September 2016 where an average of 3.2 mm/day of effluent was been supplied (this represents 5-6 % of the total dry-weather effluent discharge).

Extent of the agricultural beneficiaries

The maize field has an area of 5.8 ha.


Scientific results

Scientific reports

The monitoring of the field experiments resulted in following observations:

  • Sub-irrigation contributed to an increase of the groundwater level and the soil moisture content in the root zone, thereby reducing drought stress of the crop.
  • The sub-irrigation mainly takes place on the higher zones of the plot and hardly or not in the lower zones.
  • Water quality measurements above the drains show that effluent spreads to a limited extent in the direction of the root zone.
  • The remnants of medicines do not reach significantly to the root zone of the crop within a growing season, but it does reach the shallow groundwater.
  • The reports elaborate further on the distribution of the effluent water towards surface water, deep groundwater , drinking water and topsoil towards the crops.





Type of initiative
Research initiative
Waste water source
Farming system
Arable land
Application use
Irrigation of processed food crops, Irrigation of non-food crops
Irrigation method
Sub-surface irrigation
Implementation stage