Effects of olive mill wastewater disposal on soil: Interaction mechanisms during different seasons

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Environmental conditions play a major role for effects of olive mill wastewater (OMW) application to soil. Choosing a different season for OMW application than the commonly practiced winter, may help avoid negative effects. However, understanding of the OMW-soil interaction during different seasons is still incomplete due to the lack of comparative data. In this study, an 18 months field experiment was carried out in an olive orchard in West Bank. Degree and persistence of soil salinization, acidification, accumulation of phenolic compounds and soil water repellency were investigated as a function of soil depth and time elapsed after OMW application, which was performed either in spring, summer (with and without irrigation) or winter. The persistence of negative effects increased with duration of the hot and dry period following the application due to accumulation and polymerization of OMW. On the other hand, leaching of OMW components to groundwater is favored during the rainy season and by formation of preferential flow paths before the rain season starts. The risks of groundwater contamination and persistent negative effects decrease with increasing time under conditions favoring biological activity. Therefore, OMW application in spring if improved by a careful irrigation is considered as the most suitable under semiarid conditions for clay loam soils.

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