Bioreactor Cleans Water on the Farm

As a regular adopter of conservation practices on his family’s farm – including reduced tillage and cover crops – Michael Ganschow is particularly passionate about doing his part to reduce nutrient loss.

Representing the youngest generation on the farm, Michael was encouraged by his dad and grandpa to try new things to improve farm sustainability, and has an inclination for leveraging technology in those efforts. Through his Illinois Farm Bureau involvement, Michael was approached about installing a bioreactor that would remove nitrates from water leaving the farm and serve as a research unit for the University of Illinois.

How it works

A trench is dug where water naturally drains off the farm and is filled with woodchips. Microorganisms in the woodchips remove nitrates from the water by “breathing in” the nitrates and releasing nitrogen gas. An auto-sampler is connected to the tile lines to automatically take water samples before and after water leaves the bioreactor.

Learn more about farm bioreactors and how they work here