Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Impacts of Sewage Irrigation on Soil Properties of Farmland in China: A Review

Version 1 : Received: 9 October 2017 / Approved: 9 October 2017 / Online: 9 October 2017 (10:09:42 CEST)

How to cite: Li, Q.; Tang, J.; Wang, T.; Wu, D.; Jiao, R.; Ren, X. Impacts of Sewage Irrigation on Soil Properties of Farmland in China: A Review. Preprints 2017, 2017100048. Li, Q.; Tang, J.; Wang, T.; Wu, D.; Jiao, R.; Ren, X. Impacts of Sewage Irrigation on Soil Properties of Farmland in China: A Review. Preprints 2017, 2017100048.


Fresh water is valuable nonrenewable resource and plays an important role of maintaining economic and social development. Condisering its large population and consumption potential, water resources deficit will certainly impede basic industries sustainable development of China in the near future. Application of sewage irrigation, to some extent, was regarded as an alternative way to solve the problem of agricultural irrigation water shortage in some areas (such as North China). However, accompanied with extensive implementation of sewage irrigation, some problems on sewage irrigation in agriculture are gradually obvious, especially serious pollution and destruction for farmland. In this paper, the effects of sewage irrigation on soil physical (soil bulk density, soil resistance to penetration and field capacity), chemical (pH, soil organic matter, nitrogen, phosphrous, patassium, heavy metal and organic pollutants) and biological characteristics (soil microorganism and enzyme activities) of farmland in China were systematically reviewed on the base of the current utilization status of China’s farmland sewage irrigation and some feasible suggestions were put forward to the development prospect for the future. This review will be beneficial for promoting healthy development of sewage irrigation and providing theoretical support for reclamation and high efficiency of effluents in China.


wastewater irrigation; soil characteristics; agriculture; pollution; China


Biology and Life Sciences, Agricultural Science and Agronomy

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 21 February 2018
Commenter: (Click to see Publons profile: )
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: In this study, the authors conducted a review of literature on impact of sewage irrigation on agriculture soil and gave a recommendation. The strength of the manuscript is it was well structured and offered important information on the application of sewage in agriculture. The main flaw of the study is no experimental approach or results of the systematic review were included in the manuscript. Furthermore, the authors also overlooked the serious risk posed by sewage irrigation to environmental and human health.

General Comments

To avoid confusion, the authors may want to state clearly early in the introduction that in China raw sewage is used for irrigation. Throughout the world, reclaimed water is used instead.

The authors did not include the method they used in conducting the systematic review. Some studies use PRSMA technique since it is more structured.

No results of the systematic review were included in the manuscript. Instead, the authors discussed the widely known impacts of sewage irrigation on soil properties. However, the goal of the review was to focus on China. Tables and Figures of studies conducted in China on sewage irrigation could have been useful.

The authors might be probably aware of the several problems associated with sewage irrigation; heavy metal, organic pollutants, human pathogens, and antimicrobial resistant bacteria uptake. Application of raw sewage poses human health risk. Several studies conducted in China have highlighted these problems, but the authors overlooked then.

Specific Comments

  • Line 32: Water is a compound not an element.

  • Line 32-37: the first statement might require correction because richness is determined by volume per capital.

  • Line 37-39: the authors may want to state the characteristics they mean to avoid ambiguity.

  • Line 47-49: the authors may want to express the reduction in grain yield as a bit percentage rather than as a mass.

  • Line 50: do you mean continuous rather than concentrated?

  • Line 54-62: agricultural fields are, in most cases, not irrigated by sewage but by reclaimed water, that is effluent from wastewater treatment plants.

  • Line 62-64: the authors may want to state clearly the developed nations there are referring to.

  • Line 66-67: who is paying more attention, the authors in this manuscript or the China?

  • Line 71-72: What is your hypothesis that drove you to conduct a systematic review? What specific objectives did you develop that map your hypothesis? promotion for sustainable development or providing suppor might not be an adequate objective of the systematic review.

  • Line 75-79: this passage might not be necessary if you state from the onset that reclaimed water is used for irrigation worldwide but raw sewage is commonly used in China (as stated in Line 108-109)

  • Line 75-107: this section probably adds little to the discussion. The authors made it clear from onset that there are focusing on impact of reclaimed water on agricultural soils.

  • Line 127-130: please, edit for clarity.

  • Line 340-341: how were the adverse effects removed?

  • Line 344-357: the authors may want to state clearly how wastewater used in irrigation could be regulated.
  • + Respond to this comment

    We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

    Leave a public comment
    Send a private comment to the author(s)
    * All users must log in before leaving a comment
    Views 0
    Downloads 0
    Comments 1
    Metrics 0

    Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
    We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
    Read more about our cookies here.