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Denitrifying Bioreactor

Denitrifying Bioreactor

Photo by Louie, Ben and Blake

Denitrifying Bioreactor

Location: Tesdell Century Farm, South of Slater, IA
Featuring: Family Farmer Lee Tesdell

Helping nature break down nitrate in the soil, before it reaches waterways.

An edge of field structure, usually a subsurface trench containing a carbon source such as wood chips, that denitrifies subsurface agricultural drainage flows to reduce nitrate levels and improve water quality.

Step 1: Drainage Control Box – The tile water enters through the drainage control box, which offers a bypass if the water volume gets too high.

Step 2: Filtering – The water then filters through a bed of woodchips, colonized by naturally occurring bacteria. In the woodchips the bacteria catalyze a series of anaerobic reactions that break down and remove nitrates from the water, releasing nitrogen gas and small amounts of nitrous oxide.

Step 3: Drainage Control Box II – The water flows through a second box that can change the water level in the woodchip bed and flows out the tile outlet.

“I’m spending money most farmers wouldn’t."

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