What are denitrifying woodchip bioreactors, and how do they help the environment?

American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America
August 27, 2018
By American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America
Rate this item
(0 votes)
A bioreactor installation in Illinois. Blogger Hannah Dougherty stands next to the middle white pipe.
A bioreactor installation in Illinois. Blogger Hannah Dougherty stands next to the middle white pipe. American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America
What can a trench filled with woodchips do to improve water quality? The Sustainable, Secure Food blog explains bioreactors, a solution to nitrogen runoff.

"Denitrifying bioreactors are a low-tech, yet highly sophisticated environmental solution," says blogger Hannah Dougherty, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Their design is simple—a trench with woodchips—yet the impact is notable. Bioreactors can remove up to 45 percent of the nitrogen load in a field's drainage water.

How does this happen? Dougherty explains: "Soil naturally contains bacteria and other microbes. Bioreactors enhance the natural process of denitrification–the conversion of nitrate in water to harmless nitrogen gas–performed by bacteria already present in the surrounding soil. The woodchips provide an additional fuel source for the bacteria in the form of carbon. Think of the woodchips as an extra cup of espresso in the morning!"

Illinois has a goal of installing bioreactors on half of the state's tiled agricultural fields. Bioreactors' success in improving water quality is also creating interest in other states.

"They have great potential for expansion," Dougherty writes. "While they are not a silver bullet, they do offer important benefits in that they don't negatively impact in-field crop production."

To read the complete blog, visit Sustainable, Secure Food at https://wp.me/p9gkW1-2S.

This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Our members are researchers and trained, certified, professionals in the areas of growing our world's food supply, while protecting our environment. We work at universities, government research facilities and private businesses across the United States and the world.
Read 177 times

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

World Dairy Expo 2018
Tue Oct 02, 2018 @ 8:00am - 05:00pm

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.