Leachate irrigation is the process in which leachate is used to provide a supply of water to an area of land in order to improve crop yield, however, the method when used successfully in a sustainable manner is also an economic method for the disposal of leachate from for example, a landfill site.
Unfortunately, leachate irrigation is rarely acceptable to environmental regulatory bodies due to the risk of irrigated leachate being washed into watercourses during heavy rain, soaking into groundwater, or building up hazardous substances in the soil or in crops, before the contamination it contains has been taken up harmlessly by the plants or permanently bonded into the soils irrigated by cation exchange or similar chemical processes.
Leachate Irrigation Leaf Burn Problem
Leachate from modern well controlled sanitary landfills is normally too strong to irrigate onto plant surfaces without causing damage to leaf surfaces, and dilution is seen by most regulatory bodies as non-admissible on environmental sustainability grounds, even if a suitable water source is available.
The reasoning here is that by dilution alone irrigation might become technically feasible, but the total burden on the environment would remain unchanged. In fact, in most instances why would the landfill operator seek to take the trouble to irrigate the leachate if the leachate could simply be diluted massively until it contained so little contamination that it was harmless? Most operators would dilute and discharge to a ditch, but the environment would be burdened in an unsustainable manner by so doing, and the local ecology altered substantially.
Leachate Irrigation for Old and Dilute Leachate
Leachate irrigation is seldom permitted for landfills other than very old landfills which are usually uncapped and are often also not lined. When these produce a very dilute leachate, leachate irrigation may be permitted in a few such cases, and may be a cost effective method of leachate treatment.
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