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Conference paper
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apo-nid59835.pdf 275.09 KB

Abstract: Stormwater runs off impervious urban surfaces at artificially high rates, and erodes and pollutes local waterways. Raingardens, as biofiltration systems, are garden beds that are designed to capture and filter runoff using sandy soils and resilient plants. For healthier waterways, the construction of raingardens is being actively promoted in many cities, including Melbourne. However, raingardens might have another significant benefit; as sites of food production, using captured stormwater (runoff) for irrigation. The use of stormwater is an increasingly popular practice for overcoming water scarcity issues, which can constrain home vegetable gardening and urban agriculture. Nonetheless, the use of raingardens for food production has not been explored and vegetables represent a significant departure from the types of plants that are conventionally used in these systems. We investigated the potential to produce vegetables in raingardens through a 5-month greenhouse (pot) experiment and a 1.5-year field trial. The results indicate that it is possible to produce adequate yield in raingardens and the function of raingardens in reducing urban runoff (in terms of discharge to waterways) can be retained. An infiltration-type raingarden, sized 7.5% of its catchment area, reduced both the volume and frequency of runoff by > 90%. However, “vegetable raingardens” must be designed and managed effectively. Design issues include the use of sub-irrigation to ensure food safety and limit plant stress, and choosing filter/growing media that sustains vegetable growth while meeting runoff management objectives.

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