Wastewater reuse for fiber crops cultivation as a strategy to mitigate desertification

Ana Luísa Almaça da Cruz Fernando, Bruno Barbosa, Jorge Costa, Eleni G. Papazoglou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Combating desertification, a marked problem in arid, semi-arid and other desertification-affected areas of the world, encompasses the management of water resources and the conservation of soil properties. Establishing vegetation on land and reuse of wastewaters in irrigation may be advantageous as a strategy to mitigate desertification and biodiversity loss. In this context, fiber crop production under wastewater irrigation is reviewed, with the aim of identifying prospects and limitations. Reports of laboratory, pilot and field research indicate that bast and grass fiber crops show potential simultaneously to deliver high yields, restore soil properties and promote water quality improvement. Their production in water-scarce regions could provide environmental benefits and social and economic opportunities, safeguarding freshwater resources. Nevertheless, this practice has environmental and social concerns due to the presence of harmful substances in wastewater. Several technical and economic barriers should also be considered when designing and managing a system, such as wastewater quality, and the quantity and quality of biomass produced. In order to promote the sustainable reuse of wastewater for irrigation of fiber crops, further research is needed, factoring in issues such as yields, inputs and costs, as well as potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. It is recommended that site-specific factors should be accurately assessed to evaluate the adequacy among crop, location and wastewater irrigation, in order to overcome negative impacts and public rejection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Fiber crops
  • Wastewater reuse
  • Water resources
  • Desertification
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Soil conservation
  • Sustainable management
  • Sustainable irrigation


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