The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Stellenbosch has been involved in research on winery wastewater treatment and the irrigation of cash crops with treated wastewater for the last 20 years. The study, conducted at Spier winery was promoted due to high levels of unemployment and food shortages on farms. In subsequent years, further studies focused on the irrigation of vineyards during water shortages.
Parts of South Africa are currently experiencing water shortages due to drought, which has a negative effect on agriculture, as less water is available for irrigation. In this regard, results from dr Reckson Mulidzi’s research have indicated that treated winery wastewater with chemical oxygen demand (COD) of less than 1000 mg/L can be used for cash crop production, as it had no detrimental effect on the crop or on the environment.
Cash crop production using treated winery wastewater will also go a long way in addressing poverty alleviation of farm workers. It must, however, be emphasized that winery wastewater that is combined with sewerage wastewater is not suitable for cash crop production. – Press release