Integrated hydroponics systems with anaerobic supernatant and aquaculture effluent in desert regions: Nutrient recovery and benefit analysis

Ze Zhu, Uri Yogev, Karel J. Keesman, Shimon Rachmilevitch, Amit Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydroponics is a resource-efficient system that increases food production and enhances the overall sustainability of agricultural systems, particularly in arid zones with prevalent water scarcity and limited areas of arable land. This study investigated zero-waste hydroponics systems fed by agricultural waste streams as nutrient sources under desert conditions. Three pilot-scale systems were tested and compared. The first hydroponics system (“HPAP”) received its nutrient source internally from an aquaponic system, including supernatant from the anaerobic digestion of fish sludge. The second system (“HPAD”) was sourced by the supernatant of plant waste anaerobic digestion, and the third served as a control that was fed by commercial Hoagland solution (“HPHS”). Fresh weight production was similar in all treatments, ranging from 488 to 539 g per shoot, corresponding to 5.7 to 6.0 kg total wet weight per m2. The recovery of N and P from wastes and their subsequent uptake by plants was highly efficient, with rates of 77 % for N and 65 % for P. Plants that were fed using supernatants demonstrated slightly higher plant quality compared with those grown in Hoagland solution. Over the duration of the full study (3 months), water was only used to compensate for evapotranspiration, corresponding to ~10 L per kg of lettuce. The potential health risk for heavy metals was negligible, as assessed using the health-risk index (HRI < 1) and targeted hazardous quotient (THQ < 1). The results of this study demonstrate that careful management can significantly reduce pollution, increase the recovery of nutrients and water, and improve hydroponics production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number166867
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2023


  • Agronomy
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Desert climate
  • Hydroponics
  • Nutrient use efficiency
  • Resource recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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