Worldwide, about two-thirds of industrial and domestic wastewater effluent is discharged without treatment, which can cause contamination and eutrophication of the water. In particular, for Mediterranean countries, irrigation with treated wastewater would mitigate the water stress and support the agricultural sector. Changing global weather patterns will make the situation worse, due to increased susceptibility to drought, which can cause major environmental, social, and economic problems. The study was carried out in open field in an intensive agricultural area of the Apulian region in Southern Italy where freshwater resources are often scarce. As well as providing a water resource, irrigation with treated wastewater represents a significant source of nutrients for soil–plant systems. However, the use of wastewater might have further effects on soil. This study thus investigated the long-term impact of irrigation with reclaimed agro-industrial wastewater on the chemical characteristics of the soil. Two crops (processing tomato and broccoli) were cultivated in succession in Stornarella (Foggia) over four years from 2012 to 2016 using two types of irrigation water: groundwater and tertiary treated agro-industrial wastewater that had undergone an activated sludge process, sedimentation filtration, and UV radiation. Chemical analyses were performed on the irrigation waters and soil samples. The treated wastewater was characterised by high levels of several chemical parameters including TSS, EC, COD, BOD5, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, NH4-N, PO4-P, K+, SAR and CaCO3, as compared with the groundwater. However, despite these higher levels, the mean content of several chemical parameters in the soil did not show relevant differences between the irrigation treatments, in terms of the chemical features of the soil.
Phelipanche ramosa L. Pomel is a root holoparasitic weed plant of many cultivations, particularly of tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum L.) crop. In Italy, Phelipanche problem is increasing, both in density and in acreage. The biological control of this parasitic weed involves the use of living organisms as numerous fungi and bacteria that can infect the parasitic weed, while it may improve the crop growth. This paper deals with the biocontrol with microorganism, including Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and fungal pathogens as Fusarium oxisporum spp. Colonization of crop roots by AM fungi can provide protection of crops against parasitic weeds because of a reduction in their seed germination and attachment, while F. oxisporum, isolated from diseased broomrape tubercles, proved to be highly virulent on P. ramosa. The experimental trial was carried out in open field at Foggia province (Apulia Region, Southern Italy), during the spring-summer season 2016, in order to evaluate the effect of four biological treatments: AM fungi and Fusarium oxisporum applied in the soil alone or combined together, and Rizosum Max® product, compared with the untreated control, to reduce the P. ramosa infestation in processing tomato crop. The principal results to be drawn from this study under field condition, in contrast of those reported previously under laboratory and greenhouse conditions, show that both AM fungi and F. oxisporum do not provide the reduction of the number of emerged shoots of P. ramosa. This can arise probably from the low efficacy seedling of the agent pathogens for the control of this parasite in the field. On the contrary, the Rizosum Max® product, containing AM fungi and some rizophere bacteria combined with several minerals and organic substances, appears to be most effective for the reduction of P. ramosa infestation.