Irrigation of landfill leachates in energy forests - A technique to recover nutrients from municipal solid wastes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


From an ecological point of view it is important to close nutrient cycles by recirculating mineral nutrients from the urban society back to agriculture and forestry, and thereby obtaining a sustainable resource utilisation. A part of this cycle is illustrated by irrigation of bioreactor landfill leachates on short rotation forests. This paper presents a budget for nutrients and heavy metals, beginning with the leachates and ending with the harvested tree fraction. The hypotheses were: The applied minerals deliver nutrients to the trees. The nutrient content in the accumulating biomass corresponds to the amount of mineral nutrients applied. The concentrations of heavy metals in the trees will remain low. The uptake of elements in birch was for P 35%, Ca 1.2%, Cd 64%, Cu 10%, Mn 19%, Ni 0.11%, and for Zn 26% of the supplied amounts. It was concluded that nutrients, with some exceptions, are supplied in sufficient amounts from the irrigated leachates to achieve optimal biomass growth, that the amounts of ions immobilised by the plants were significantly lower compared to the applied amounts, and that the concentrations of heavy metals are not increasing in the trees after irrigation. The overall conclusion is that a leachate irrigation system is efficient if the available vegetated land area is large enough for effective nutrient uptake, but the nutrient ratio may need to be balanced to meet the needs of the plants.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • leachate, nutrient, landfill, irrigation, heavy metal, Betula, birch
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-224
JournalWater, Air and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Environmental Strategy (016530100)