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Heavenly Farm Report: Working to prevent nutrient loss in agriculture fields

(HOI) — This year’s wet spring caused a large amount of water to soak into the soil. That allowed more nutrients to seep into our drainage water.

Now, agencies are working on a solution to keep those nutrients on farmer’s fields.

“We’re all out here at four different stops where we will learn about best management practices that can be used both in the field and at the edge of the field that can improve our water quality leaving ag fields,” Lauren Lurkins, director of environmental policy at the Illinois Farm Bureau said.

The four topics that were discussed included cover crop inter-seeding, denitrifying bioreactor improvements, drainage water management and multipurpose riparian grass buffers.

Wale, the senior Environmental Scientist with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, said, “This idea has come out as one of the best management process — to remove phosphorus at a very low cost.”

“The woodchip bioreactor that I just constructed is a ditch stuck with woodchips. The woodchips have microbes that are walking on them and are denitrifying the nitrates, which turn into nitrogen gas and then excapes into the atmosphere. There are no contaminants. The nitrates are prevented from escaping into the aquatic system,” Wale said.

The agencies say improving water quality is not just the responsibility of the farmer but something we all need to be aware of, and hosting events like field day can allow for a better nutrient loss reduction strategy.

Drew Veskauf

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