Bioreactors: A Crucial Practice in Nutrient Reduction for Iowa

Bioreactors: A Crucial Practice in Nutrient Reduction for Iowa

On a warm summer evening in July, landowners, farmers, and community citizens gathered together at Iowa State’s Field Extension Education Laboratory to learn what they can about the benefits and a little science behind denitrifying bioreactors. A denitrifying bioreactor is a subsurface trench at the edge of a field usually filled with hardwood chips, installed to reduce nitrate concentration in the tile water that it diverts. The wood chips are the carbon source that contains the bacteria needed to breakdown the nitrates in the water to convert into nitrogen gas.   The participants were able to see a bioreactor in action and heard from Iowa Learning Farms expert, Liz Juchems about the benefits to having a bioreactor and how it can help in the effort to improving water quality. She explained that using bioreactors alone in the state in all of the identified appropriate areas would reduce the nitrates that end up in our waterways by 43%, which exceeds the 41% goal...
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Learning from Others in the Watershed

Learning from Others in the Watershed

An essential part of our lives is learning – from textbooks and the internet; and probably most importantly, our elders and peers. This learning starts when we are days old and continues the rest of our lives. In our younger years, we learn the basics of life and subjects that lead to life skills and careers. Further on, we dive further into a certain subject or trade of interest in preparation for our career. After plunging into our careers, we further develop our interests in extra-curricular causes and subjects. For some of us, the extra-curricular causes relate to protecting our natural resources. There are a plethora of natural resources that need protected in this world; for Iowa, the most well-known is our water quality.  In order to improve and protect our water quality, we must first understand what the problem is and how we all can help.   There are resources all around us to gain information on this important topic – advanced...
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Hamilton County Farmer Receives 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award

Hamilton County Farmer Receives 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award

Larry Haren, a farmer in Hamilton County, received a 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in a ceremony at the Iowa State Fair Wednesday, Aug. 16. The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award is a joint effort of the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lt. Governor, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It recognizes Iowa farmers as local leaders who are taking steps to improve or protect the environment and natural resources in their farming operations. Those recognized have adopted best management practices and incorporated environmental stewardship throughout their farms and work to encourage other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building upon success.   Haren’s farm has been in operation for more than 10 years and covers over 400 acres. He installed a pond to drain his neighbors’ tile, which alone reduced nitrates by 50 percent. He then installed a denitrifying bioreactor to reduce the nitrate levels even further. Other...
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Field Day: Soil and Water Health in Action

On November 7, 2015 Prairie Rivers of Iowa hosted an informational field day which included a tour of two farms near Stratford, Iowa. The beautiful, crisp day filled with sunshine and pastoral landscape views created a perfect setting for learning about soil and water conservation practices such as prairie buffers, filter strips, wetlands, rotational grazing, and cover crops. The highlight of the day for many of the attendees was the hay-rack tour. It was a classic way to learn about two Iowa farms and their stewards. It's definitely safe to say that both the farmers and the group covered a lot of ground. The first stop of the tour was at a ridge on Jim and Anita Johnson's farm, Prairie Hill Farm of Hamilton County. From this location you could see the prairie field borders, a prairie filter strip, and a wetland surrounded by a large riparian area. This area intercepts water draining off their farmland, which includes rotational cattle pasture and row crops. It also intercepts some...
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