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Urban food security and resilience through wastewater

A quick look into the Aqua-Soil Approach

Organic waste and wastewater are the foundations of the Aqua-Soil Approach. These streams of waste, treated by biological purification techniques, are turned into the basic components used in horticulture and agriculture. The following figure below gives a schematic view of this procedure:


Organic matter and nutrients are necessary for the development of healthy soil structures. Organic matter provides a stable biological root zone where bacteria, fungi and worms create a balanced root zone. This creates efficient uptake of water and nutrients by the roots, which is essential for growth and inherently the horticultural product (yield). Moreover, a healthy biological stable soil evaporates less water and thus lowering the production's water consumption  (more crop per drop).

Compost is considered to be an excellent source for enhancing soil structures and also as a natural fertilizer for horticultural fields. The production and use of compost dates back through the history of early agriculture and beyond. Composting is therefore recognised as an efficient practice that has developed different methodologies throughout the history.

In comparison to other existing composting techniques, Soil & More International developed a composting technique that has a minimalized emission of methane (a heavy greenhouse gas) for the natural degradation process. The methodology of Soil & More International has been acknowledged accordingly as Best Practise Method. This technology has also been adjusted to meet the requirements of the United Nations in CO₂ reduction projects, which generates Carbon Credits. There is a noticeable synergy between the reuse of wastewater and composting.  Thus, the adoption of this composting technique by the Aqua-Soil Approach.

Water purification

It is necessary to have safe and reliable irrigation water for the production of food. The Aqua-Soil Group developed a unique technique for the production of safe and reliable irrigation water that is derived from wastewater. This technique extracts all the pollutants and toxins from the wastewater except for the dissolved nutrients that are absorbed by the crops.

A regular wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is targeted to remove phosphorus and nitrogen while the purification of the Aqua -Soil Approach focuses on pathogens, heavy metals and inorganic compounds which leaves the nitrogen and phosphate concentration intact. Ultimately we derive irrigation water that is ideal for the irrigation of crops. This irrigation water can be provided all year round. The quality of wastewater differs per city or wastewater treatment plant. Each water treatment plant, developed by the Aqua Soil group is unique. The ASA uses robust biological techniques that require little maintenance, so they can are applicable and manageable in any local context. The water treatment plants are designed and developed by Aqua-Terra Nova BV.


Food is sustained by an intensive organic horticulture. Large amount of food quantities can be produced on marginal land even with the limited space that is available in cities. However, horticulture does not occupy much space, which makes it suitable for food production in the city. Our approach is interesting for various parties (such as supermarkets) due to its production intensity, high quality of the produce and continuous supply.

The focus of the Aqua-Soil Approach is not primarily on the established greenhouse horticulturists but more on upcoming farmers (exchange of research and knowledge showed an interest of upcoming farmers). Additionally, the Aqua Soil group is seeking to attract entrepreneurs and provide a training centre. This means that knowledge and experience can be developed and shared locally to guarantee and strengthen the continuity of the food cluster.


The Aqua-Soil Approach creates a sustainable environment that contributes to the circular economy through its waste reuse as source for food production and is also an addition to business-development by being a catalyst for economic stability and job creation, particularly for regions that are in need. These are in short our core values for the Aqua-Soil-Approach.

The following infographic (right-hand side) represents the application of the Aqua-Soil Approach. By reading the blog you remain up to date on various projects of the Aqua-Soil Group.