Production of Jerusalem Artichoke Hybrids under Irrigation using Urban Wastewater
This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.
Report no. UWRAA 63
Jerusalem artichoke is comparatively new and is not being widely grown in Australia. There is very little known of the crop’s adaptability to grow and produce under diverse climatic and growing conditions. The plant has been identified as having many important characteristics which makes it a potentially valuable crop in many respects viz: high biomass production with large carbohydrate (stores in the form of inulin – an easily fermentable substrate) content, ability to grow and produce under relatively high nutrient loads etc.
At present in Australia, as elsewhere, there has been considerable interest for land disposal of wastewater/effluent instead of the traditional ways of discharging it into waterways of rivers and ocean systems. Crops, pastures and trees are being experimented on with irrigation using wastewater/effluent.
This research project was to explore the potential for growing artichoke hybrids under wastewater irrigation with the temperate climatic conditions at Werribee, South Western region of Victoria.
Several artichoke cultivars were grown on a 1.5 ha site at the Melbourne Water – Werribee farm during summer 1991-92. Measurements of yield and carbohydrate content of tops and tubers were made on composite plant samples taken at frequent intervals during the growing season.
The study found that artichoke can be grown successfully in cooler climatic regions like Werribee. The plants suffered little or no ill effects due to wastewater irrigation. The biomass yields (tops and tubers) recorded in this experiment are equal and in many cases higher than those obtained for crops grown elsewhere under more favourable conditions.
Compared to commercial cultivar (CV1) hybrids tended to produce large yields of both tops and tubers. The carbohydrate content (glucose, fructose and inulin) in both tops and tubers was also high in most hybrids.
The study identifies the desirability of land disposal of wastewater by irrigating crops. Substantial savings/profits can be made in wastewater management by growing crops like artichoke which has the potential for the commercial production of many value added products.