At this field day, attendees learned about how saturated buffers and bioreactors look and work underground. After a demonstration of the Iowa Learning Farms’ Conservation Station “On the Edge” trailer, the group headed out to Stout’s bioreactor.
Stout had his bioreactor installed in 2014 thanks to cost share funds available through the West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative. The bioreactor is 100′ x 30′ with an 8″ tile and drains about 68 acres. Water quality monitoring done at the inlet and outlet of the bioreactor over the last 5 years has shown that the bioreactor has been effective at reducing the nitrate load. Average nitrate removal has been around 90% for August – October, with slightly lower amounts removed (~43 – 83%) in April – July. Stout explained that the monitoring has also shown a decrease in the nitrate loads at the inlet of the bioreactor over the 5 years it’s been installed, due to changes he’s made in his nitrogen management (splitting up applications) and likely also related to his use of cover crops.
The field day also included presentations about wildlife habitat restoration and monarch butterflies and monarch habitat. Holly Shutt, from Pheasants Forever, explained the monarch lifecycle and the importance of milkweed being available for monarchs.
Read more about the field day at https://iowalearningfarms.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/bioreactors-birds-and-butterflies-oh-my/