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Effect of irrigation by domestic wastewater on quantity and quality characteristics of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.) under lysimeter conditions.


Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments. Traditionally, the crop was grown for its seeds, and used for colouring and flavouring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available. For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds. In April 2007 SemBioSys Genetics claimed to have genetically modified safflower to create insulin. Safflower seed oil is flavorless and colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly in cosmetics and as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine. It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement. INCI nomenclature is Carthamus tinctorius. There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Currently the predominant edible oil market is for the former, which is lower in saturates than olive oil, for example. The latter is used in painting in the place of linseed oil, particularly with white, as it does not have the yellow tint which linseed oil possesses. Safflower seed is also used quite commonly as an alternative to sunflower seed in birdfeeders, as squirrels do not like the taste of it. Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and are thus sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron." Lana is a strain of Safflower that grows in the southwestern United States, most notably Arizona and New Mexico. In colouring textiles, safflower's dried flowers are used as a natural textile dye. Natural dyes derived from plants are not widely used in industry but they are getting more important world wide because of naturality and fashion trends. The pigment in safflower is benzoquinone-based Carthamin, so it is one of the quinone-type natural dyes. It is a direct dye (CI Natural Red 26) and soluble. Yellow, mustard, khaki, olive green or even red colours can be obtained on textiles, but it is used mostly for yellow colours. All hydrophilic fibres (all natural fibres, such as cotton, wool, etc.) may be dyed with this plant since it may be classified as a direct dye. Polyamide can also be dyed without a mordant agent because of its wool-like chemical structure. Polyester, polyacrylnitryl and others which are hydrophobic synthetic fibres can be dyed only in the existence of a mordant. Safflower concentrate is an ingredient of the carbonated soft drink Tizer and some types of Sunkist. Dried Safflower flowers are used in Traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate pain, increase circulation, and reduce bruising. They are included in herbal remedies for menstrual pain and minor physical trauma. The pharmaceutical company SemBioSys Genetics is currently using transgenic safflower plants to produce human insulin as the global demand for the hormone grows. Safflower-derived human insulin is currently in the PI/II trials on human test subjects. Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. John Chadwick reports that the Greek name for safflower occurs many times in Linear B tablets, distinguished into two kinds: a white safflower, which is measured, and red which is weighed. "The explanation is that there are two parts of the plant which can be used; the pale seeds and the red florets. Safflower was also known as carthamine in the nineteenth century. It is a minor crop today, with about 600,000 tons being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide. India, United States, and Mexico are the leading producers, with Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, Argentina and Australia accounting for most of the remainder. Other names include Sallflower, Beni, Chimichanga, or Carthamus tinctorius. The safflower, an annual plant, is native to a climate with a long dry season and a limited rainy season. Its defenses are very poor against numerous fungal diseases in rainy conditions, after its seedling stage. This greatly restricts the areas in which it can be grown commercially around the globe [5]. Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay, but can also be made into silage, grazed, or fed as green-chop. Alfalfa usually has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops. It is used less frequently as pasture. When grown on soils where it is well-adapted, alfalfa is often the highest yielding forage plant, but its primary benefit is the combination of high yield per hectare and high nutritional quality. Its primary use is as feed for high producing dairy cows--because of its high protein content and highly digestible fiber--and secondarily for beef cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. Humans also eat alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches. Dehydrated alfalfa leaf is commercially available as a dietary supplement in several forms, such as tablets, powders and tea. Alfalfa is believed by some to be a galactagogue, a substance that induces lactation. Alfalfa can cause bloating in livestock, care must be taken with livestock grazing on alfalfa because of its high bloat hazard. Like other legumes, its root nodules contain bacteria, Sinorhizobium meliloti, with the ability to fix nitrogen, producing a high-protein feed regardless of available nitrogen in the soil. Its nitrogen-fixing abilities (which increases soil nitrogen) and its use as an animal feed greatly improved agricultural efficiency. Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, and does best on well-drained soils with a neutral pH of 6.8-7.5. Alfalfa requires sustained levels of potassium and phosphorus to grow well. It is moderately sensitive to salt levels in both the soil and in irrigation water, although it continues to be grown in the arid southwestern United States, where salinity is an emerging issue. Soils low in fertility should be fertilized with manure or a chemical fertilizer, but correction of pH is particularly important. Usually a seeding rate of 13-20 kg/hectare (12-25 lb/acre) is recommended, with differences based upon region, soil type, and seeding method. A nurse crop is sometimes used, particularly for spring plantings, to reduce weed problems and soil erosion, but can lead to competition for light, water and nutrients. In most climates, alfalfa is cut three to four times a year, but it can be harvested up to 12 times per year in Arizona and southern California. Total yields are typically around 8 tonnes per hectare (4 short tons per acre) in temperate environments, but yields have been recorded up to 20 t/ha (16 short tons per acre). Yields vary with region, weather, and the crop's stage of maturity when cut. Later cuttings improve yield, but with reduced nutritional content. Alfalfa leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata, a pollinator on alfalfa flower. Alfalfa is considered an insectary due to the large number of insects it attracts. Some pests, such as alfalfa weevil, aphids, armyworms, and the potato leafhopper, can reduce alfalfa yields dramatically, particularly with the second cutting when weather is warmest. Chemical controls are sometimes used to prevent this. Alfalfa is also susceptible to root rots, including Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, and Texas root rot. Considerable research and development has been done with this important plant. Older cultivars such as 'Vernal' have been the standard for years, but many better public and private varieties better adapted to particular climates are available. Private companies release many new varieties each year in the US. Most varieties go dormant in the fall, with reduced growth in response to low temperatures and shorter days. Nondormant' varieties that grow through the winter are planted in long-seasoned environments such as Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California, whereas 'dormant' varieties are planted in the Upper Midwest, Canada, and the Northeast.

'Nondormant' varieties can be higher yielding, but they are susceptible to winter-kill in cold climates and have poorer persistence. Most alfalfa cultivars contain genetic material from sickle medick (M. falcata), a wild variety of alfalfa that naturally hybridizes with M. sativa to produce sand lucerne (M. sativa ssp. varia). This species may bear either the purple flowers of alfalfa or the yellow of sickle medick, and is so called for its ready growth in sandy soil. Most of the improvements in alfalfa over the last decades have consisted of better disease resistance on poorly drained soils in wet years, better ability to overwinter in cold climates, and the production of more leaves. Multileaf alfalfa varieties have more than three leaflets per leaf, giving them greater nutritional content by weight because there is more leafy matter for the same amount of stem [6]. Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. It comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry, and/or agriculture and can encompass a wide range of potential contaminants and concentrations. In the most common usage, it refers to the municipal wastewater that contains a broad spectrum of contaminants resulting from the mixing of wastewaters from different sources. Sewage is correctly the subset of wastewater that is contaminated with feces or urine, but is often used to mean any waste water [4,1]. Despite the cost of wastewater treatment and distribution, annual crop costs are lower when irrigating with effluents because the price of effluent water in some areas is lower compared to potable water [2,3]. Therefore, the aim of this study was evaluated the effect of irrigation by domestic wastewater on quantity and quality characteristics of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.) under lysimeter conditions at Iran.

Materials and Methods

In order to the effect of irrigation by domestic wastewater on quantity and quality characteristics of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.) under lysimeter conditions, this experiment was carried out in Iran at Varamin. In expermintal field were 15 lysimeters, which cultivated safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) in 1 to 5 lysimeters and were irrigated by domestic wastewater and primary drainage water were accumulated. The 6 to 9 lysimeters cultivated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and were irrigated by primary drainage water and then, were accumulated secondary drainage water and 10, 11 and 12 lysimeters cultivated rose (Rosa hybrida L.) and irrigated by secondary drainage water. In order to compare plants characteristics, in 13, 14 and 15 lysimeters cultivated safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.) and were irrigated by fresh water. At the maturity, collected plants from each lysimeters for determination of quantity and quality characteristics in safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.). Finally, data were subjected to repeated measure analysis and graphs drawing by Excel software.

Results and Discussion

The results showed that quantity and quality characteristics of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and rose (Rosa hybrida L.) increased under irrigation by secondary drainage water into irrigation by fresh water.




The applied treated effluent contained higher levels of Na, Cl, HCC[O.sub.3.sup.-1] P, K, N[H.sub.4.sup.+1], N[O.sup.3-1], Ca+Mg, B, Mn, and Fe than the local potable water used as control, and were characterized by higher values of electrical conductivity (EC), pH, and sodium absorption ratio (SAR). The results demonstrate that both oregano and rosemary are suitable as industrial crops for essential oil and antioxidant production under irrigation with secondary-treated municipal effluent because their yield quantity and quality were not affected. In addition to affects on the irrigated crops, much effort is currently made to study potential effects of irrigation by wastewater on chemical and physical properties of soils.


[1.] Bernstein, N., D. Chaimovitch, N. Dudai, 2009. Effect of irrigation with secondary treated effluent on essential oil, antioxidant activity, and phenolic compounds in oregano and rosemary. Agron J., 101: 1-10.

[2.] Byrd, J.F., M.D. Ehrke, J.I. Whitfield, 1984. New Bleached Kraft Pulp Plant in Georgia: State of the Art Environmental Control Water pollution control federation, 56(4): 378-385.

[3.] Fine, P., R. Halperin, H. Hadas, 2006. Economic considerations for wastewater upgrading alternatives: An Israeli test case. J. Environ. Manage, 78: 163-169.

[4.] Mittler, R., 2002. Oxidative stress, antioxidants and stress tolerance. Trends Plant Sci., 7: 405- 410.

[5.] Wikipedia, 2011. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

[6.] Wikipedia, 2011. For the actor and character of the series Our Gang, see Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer. For the community in Central Oregon, see Alfalfa, Oregon. October 2011.

(1) Mohammad Nasri, (1) Mansoureh Khalatbari and (2) Hossein Hassanpour Darvishi

(1) Department of Agriculture, Varamin Branch, Islamic Azad University, Varamin, Iran

(2) Department of Agriculture, Shahr-e-Qods Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Corresponding Author

Mohammad Nasri, Department of Agriculture, Varamin Branch, Islamic Azad University, Varamin, Iran.
Table 1: The quantity and quality characteristics of safflower
(Carthamus tinctorius L.) under irrigation by domestic wastewater.

Treatment Fresh Secondary Variation
 water drainage water percentage

Plant height (cm) 48.5 53.8 +9.8
Boll number 3.8 4.2 +9.5
Seed number in boll 26.8 27.9 +4
1000 seed weight (g) 42.7 41.2 +3.6
Seed yield (kg/ha) 2087.1 2492.3 +16.3
Biological yield (kg/ha) 5461 6374 +14.2
HI (%) 38.1 39.1 +2.5
Oil percentage (%) 28.4 27.3 -4.03
Oil yield (kg/ha) 592.7 680.4 +12.9
Protein percentage (%) 17.9 19.2 +6.8
Protein yield (kg/ha) 373.6 478.5 +22

Table 2: The quantity and quality characteristics of alfalfa
(Medicago sativa L.) under irrigation by domestic wastewater.

Treatment Fresh Secondary Variation
 water drainage water percentage

Dry weight yield (kg/ha) 6189.3 7002.6 +11.6
Protein percentage (%) 15.8 17.4 + 9.1
Protein yield (kg/ha) 978 1218.5 +19.75
Plant height (cm) 33.8 37.6 +10.1

Table 3: The quantity and quality characteristics of rose
(Rosa hybrida L.) under irrigation by domestic wastewater.

Treatment Fresh Secondary Variation
 water drainage water percentage

Stem number 32.8 34.6 +5.2
Age length after harvesting 12.1 12.3 +1.6
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Nasri, Mohammad; Khalatbari, Mansoureh; Darvishi, Hossein Hassanpour
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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