The first woodchip bioreactor installed in Iowa was recently recharged with new woodchips as part of the reconditioning process. The bioreactor, located near Jefferson in Greene County, was installed nine years ago.
Chris Hay, an environmental scientist with the Iowa Soybean Association, says the bioreactor has done its job in reducing nitrate flow into surface water. “The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy says, on average, that bioreactors will reduce about 43-percent – load reduction in nitrogen – and that’s right in line with what we saw from this bioreactor,” Hay said. “Up to 60-percent at times and down to 20-percent, but in that 40 percent range, on average.”
Bioreactors are a key component of trying to meet the state’s nutrient reduction strategy, according to Hay. “Bioreactors and some of these other edge-of-field practices like it are some of the best performing practices that we’ve got and some of the most cost-efficient practices that we’ve got to deal with nitrogen losses from agricultural lands. And particularly ag lands that have sub-surface drainage,” Hay said.
There are currently about 40 bioreactors in Iowa.
Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News
Photo courtesy Iowa Soybean Association