Floating Flower Farms May Help Clean Polluted Waterways

An FIU team lead by Krishnaswamy Jayachandran wants to know whether floating cut-flower farms could help mitigate water pollution caused by excess nutrients that wash into lakes and rivers via runoff from agricultural and residential sites. This pollution leads to algae blooms that decrease oxygen levels in the water and create aquatic dead zones.

The researchers floated mats of inexpensive polyethylene foam in outdoor test tanks that mirrored water conditions of nearby polluted waterways. They transplanted flower seedlings, including giant marigolds, into the mats. The team found that flowers grown on the floating platforms extracted 52% more phosphorus and 36% more nitrogen than the natural nitrogen cycle removes from untreated water.

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