|Research Postgraduate in the Department of Engineering||E247 Higginson|
Ms.Tariro Gwandu is a Zimbabwean scientist who studied Soil Science at both undergraduate and Master’s level. Her interests are in soil health and crop nutrition. She is a recipient of the 2013 International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) global scholar award for researchers in crop nutrition. She has worked for the Zimbabwe’s ministry of Agriculture in the Department of Research, specialising in integrated soil fertility, soil-water management and crop nutrition. She is currently studying towards a PhD in Environmental Engineering with Durham University looking at novel approaches of using water treatment residual (WTR)- a by-product of municipal clean water treatment for soil health improvement, drought resilience and environmental protection in line with SDGs 2, 12 and 15.
The research study ‘soil health improvement technologies to enhance drought and nutrient resilience in urban agroecosystems in Zimbabwe’ aims to improve soil health through sustainable use of a by-product of municipal clean water treatment works, water treatment residual (WTR) in Zimbabwe. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Zimbabwe is currently facing rapid population growth and urbanisation, with an inevitable increase in municipal WTR production and the associated environmental challenges of its disposal. In addition high rates of unemployment in SSA has forced many urban dwellers to rely on farming in marginal soils, demanding immediate research into alternative soil improvement technologies (SITs) to halt land degradation and enhance crop yields. Past research has shown that land application of WTR improves soil physicochemical properties, but the aluminium and iron oxides present in WTR can potentially results in phosphorus (P) fixation, making it unavailable for plant uptake. Yet P is the second limiting nutrient to crop production in SSA following nitrogen (N). Thus, evaluating options that reduces the P fixing ability of WTR such as co-application with other organic plant or animal based wastes form the core of this work. Results from this work have shown improved maize (corn) yields and micronutrient (zinc and copper) content where WTR was co-applied with compost and P fertilizer, providing scope for partly addressing Sustainable Development Goal number 3 of improving diets in urban Zimbabwe. Sustainable use of WTR will enhance environmental protection, help restore soil productivity and also improve ecosystem functions and enhance resilience of these agroecosystems to global environmental changes and help achieve the many sustainable development goals (SDGs) linked to soil health.
- Gwandu, T., Blake, L. I., Nezomba, H., Rurinda, J., Chivasa, S., Mtambanengwe, F. & Johnson, K. L. (2021). Waste to resource: use of water treatment residual for increased maize productivity and micronutrient content. Environmental Geochemistry and Health
- Stone, Wendy, Lukashe, Noxolo S., Blake, Lynsay I., Gwandu, Tariro, Hardie, Ailsa G., Quinton, John, Johnson, Karen & Clarke, Catherine Elaine (2021). The microbiology of rebuilding soils with water treatment residual co‐amendments: Risks and benefits. Journal of Environmental Quality 50(6): 1381-1394.