An Oct. 3rd article in Agri-News talks about a recently installed bioreactor on Tom Manson’s farm near Waverly. His bioreactor and results from its water monitoring will be interesting as Manson uses the manure from the 6,000 hogs he finishes on his continuous corn acres.
You can read the article here: Bioreactor to remove nitrate from tile water
There is still some mystery as to how bioreactors work and if they will actually produce the results for which they were intended. Bioreactors were designed to reduce nitrates from subsurface drainage leaving the field. They are one way to help reduce nitrates as part of the suite of practices suggested in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
There are resources available to learn more about bioreactors. Promising results come from research done in 2011 by Laura Christianson at Iowa State University and funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
Iowa Learning Farms hosted a webinar in 2011, presented by Christianson, whose master’s work focused on bioreactors. You can watch the archive of this webinar here: ILF May 2011 Webinar – Bioreactors
Her findings are published in a handout through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Woodchip Bioreactors for Nitrate in Agricultural Drainage. The publication can be downloaded as a PDF file.
Another resource is the Iowa Soybean Association. The organization, in conjunction with Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA), has installed several bioreactors in north central and northwest Iowa. Keegan Kult presented an ILF webinar on this project in December 2012. This archived presentation is available to view as well: ISA Bioreactor Results
You can also visit the ACWA website for more details on these installed bioreactors.