This work investigates the optimal management of water hyacinth ponds for the improvement of piggery waste treatment. The optimal harvesting strategy for the water hyacinth was studied using a single mathematical model. The water hyacinth optimal harvesting problem was formulated as an optimal control problem that was solved by application of Pontryagin's Maximum Principle. The optimization of the water hyacinth control in the pond indicates that the plant density should be reduced whenever it reaches half of the maximum capacity for growth. Two experimental systems were used to validate the mathematical model, one in real scale and the other in pilot scale. The results demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed harvesting strategy. For example, a comparison of the total nitrogen removal in the different pilot ponds confirmed the modeling results, in that the performance of the pond maintained with 50% water hyacinth cover was better than the others.

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