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First bioreactor recharge takes place today

Keegan Kult, environmental scientist with the Iowa Soybean Association, explains how a bioreactor works to Governor Terry Branstad. Photo by Ben Nuelle.

The first-ever bioreactor recharge takes place in Jefferson today.

Members of Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA), Capital Crossroads and Iowa Soybean Association staff will discuss the role denitrifying woodchip bioreactors play for subsurface (tile) drainage water.

“(Bioreactors) tap into the field drainage system and divert a portion of tile flow through an underground bed of wood chips. (They) provide carbon spurs the microbes in the soil profile and removes nitrogen from the system,” ISA environmental scientist Keegan Kult says.

Keegan says bioreactors can be installed for about $8,000 to $12,000 but there are many cost-share programs out there to help pay for it.

“These practices are turning out to be really effective at removing nitrogen. We’re looking at $2 to $3 per pound of nitrogen removed with the bioreactors.”

Farmers are implementing this water quality practice to reduce nitrate flow into surface water and this unique practice site was one of the first installed in Iowa nine years ago.

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