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Nutrient management from wastewater discharged from abattoir


Nutrient management from wastewater irrigated soils


Raghupathi is using environmentally friendly techniques to clean up the contamination in a landfill site (or rubbish dump) covered with soil and plants that are irrigated with abattoir wastewater. Abattoirs are one of the major agricultural industries in Australia, which is the one of the world’s largest producers and exporter of meat. High-quality meat production relies on large amounts of fresh water, energy and other environmental resources. Meat production produces a huge volume of wastewater that is often discharged into the natural environment, and contains large amounts of nutrients and pollutants. This can cause serious environmental degradation if it is not managed properly.

Meat production is on track to double in 20 years’ time. This rate of growth threatens to deplete a range of important resources. The waste and wastewater from meat production can cause groundwater contamination, soil pollution and greenhouse gases emission – problems that have given meat production a reputation as a ‘dirty’ industry. In Australia we have wineries and dairies in the 1000s, yet their wastewater production rate is very low compared to that of abattoirs, which number only in 100s. Given that Australia – especially SA – is a water-scarce region, we need to give special attention to protecting water resources from contamination and overexploitation.

My colleagues and I collected landfill soil samples for laboratory analysis and found that wastewater irrigation contributed a very large – and potentially unsafe – amount of extra nutrients to the soil. The solution that we are researching is to grow plants such as giant reed and Napier grass on the landfill. These plants can take large amounts of these extra nutrients out of the soil, and can then be used to produce energy or paper, or even as an animal feed.

This sort of environmentally friendly approach can assist our efforts  combat greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. So far, our results are promising. By using our limited resources in this way, we can help create healthier communities and prepare a better world for future generations.


Raghupathi completed his Bachelor Degree in Agriculture from Annamlai University, India in 2007. He then continued with his Masters Degree in Environmental sciences at University of Mysore which he completed in October 2010. After completing his Masters  Degree Raghupathi worked as a Senior Research Fellow at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (2010–2011). His research focus during this tenure mainly focused on wastewater treatment targeting the removal of heavy metals. Raghupathi also conducted a go green campaign at schools and colleges.


Matheyarasu, R, Seshadri, B, Bolan, NS, and Naidu, R. 2015 “Impacts of Abattoir Waste-Water Irrigation on Soil Fertility and Productivity, Irrigation and Drainage” – Sustainable Strategies and Systems, Dr. Muhammad Salik Javaid (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-2123-7

Kumar, Pankaj, Matheyarasu Raghupathi, Nanthi S. Bolan, and Stan Miklavcic. “Phenotyping earthworm by image analysis.” In Control Automation Robotics & Vision (ICARCV), 2014 13th International Conference on, pp. 205-210. IEEE, 2014.

Matheyarasu, Raghupathi, B. Seshadri, N. S. Bolan, and R. Naidu. Nutrient management in effluents derived from agricultural industries: an Australian perspective. Diss. WIT Press, 2012.


  • UniSA small grant winner: 2015
  • UniSA small grant winner (Publication): 2014
  • UniSA bright idea contest winner: 2014