Location: Soil and Water Management Research
Project Number: 5062-12130-006-07-R
Project Type: Reimbursable
Start Date: Oct 17, 2013
End Date: Dec 31, 2016
Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a serious environmental problem. Goals for solving this problem include the establishment of a 45% reduction in the N and P loads entering the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. Meeting this goal will be challenging if only on-farm and edge-of-field conventional agricultural best management practices (BMPs) are considered. There is a pressing need to develop additional nutrient reduction management practices that focus on N and P loads in agricultural drainage ditches, which convey a majority of the agricultural nutrient loads in the Upper Midwestern region. This project seeks to develop and test novel nutrient removal techniques that can be installed in agricultural drainage ditches for removal of nonpoint source N and P. P removal will be achieved using materials that sorb phosphorus, such as steel slag, alum, fly ash or bauxite waste. N removal will be achieved using materials that facilitate the denitrification of nitrate, including wood chips, corn cobs, sawdust, or coir. P and N removal materials will be tested in the laboratory using packed flow columns to test each material for physical and chemical characteristics that make them suitable for P or N removal. The best performing materials will then be tested for several years by installing them in the channel of field scale experimental drainage ditches which are monitored at the inlet and outlet for N and P concentrations and loads.
There will be two interconnected phases for this project: 1) Initial laboratory screening of various materials for abiotic nitrate and phosphorus removal to select 4 optimum materials for column testing, and 2) Laboratory column evaluation of the 4 optimum materials for their combined biotic and abiotic removals.