Cleaning Farm Runoff With Bio Reactors

Sep 28, 2017

the first bio reactor, next to a farm field in Geneseo.Credit Illinois Farm BureauEdit | Remove

The Illinois Farm Bureau is leading an effort to show farmers how they can help improve water quality. Wednesday it supervised the building of a bio reactor near Geneseo - the first in a series to be installed across the state. 

Lauren Lurkins, from the Farm Bureau, says the bio-reactor is really very simple - it's just a pit dug in the ground next to some crops that's filled with wood chips. 

"When that water has come off that field, through the tile line, and before it outlets to the stream, it will have this biological reaction because of the wood chips and the carbon source that the wood chips provide. And research shows it actually reduces the amount of nitrate nitrogen that leaves the farm."

 The nitrate reduction is anywhere from 20 to 40 per cent.

The first bio reactor was built next to a 40-acre field on the farm of Todd VerHeecke near Geneseo. Lurkins says for this field, the bio reactor is about the size of a semi trailer and cost about 6,000 dollars. And once completed, it will be covered with grass.

For this project, the Farm Bureau is working with the University of Illinois, the USDA, and the state chapter of the Land Improvement Contractors of America.