The Irish Division of the Microbiology Society recently hosted a conference entitled “Microbial Resources for Agricultural and Food Security”. The conference took place from the 21st to 23rd June 2017 in Belfast and was attended by a number of DairyWater researchers, Peter Leonard (NUI Galway), Beatriz Gil Pulido (UCC) and Dr. Niall O’Leary (UCC). The conference dealt with a number of concerning issues in both the agricultural and food sectors, which included the difficulties in nutrient removal and phosphorus recycling and recovery.
DairyWater researchers, Peter Leonard (NUI Galway), Dr. Niall O’Leary (UCC) and Beatriz Gil Pulido (UCC), during the poster session in Belfast
A number of emerging technologies to address these problems were central to many presentations. Peter spoke about IASBR technology, a novel system developed at NUI Galway, which offers a more economical and sustainable method of biological water treatment than what is currently employed within the industry. This technology is under investigation by the DairyWater project at both pilot- and laboratory-scale in order to determine its viability for use within the Irish dairy sector. Peter was able to report that the IASBR system has a promising future as initial testing has exhibited that the system has the capacity to remove over 95% of nitrogen, phosphorus and chemical oxygen demand on a wastewater and is capable of high strength dairy processing wastewater.
PhD student, Beatriz, presented a first approach on the microbial ecology of an IASBR system treating synthetic dairy wastewater. Molecular techniques were used to investigate the diversity of the bioreactor, where the results from a laboratory-scale trial, which was performed in 2015, were summarised in a poster presentation. The ecology of an IASBR was presented alongside its performance. Specific groups of bacteria were identified and linked to the optimal performance of the bioreactor (orthophosphate and ammonia removal efficiencies >90%) under one of the three aeration rates investigated during the trial.