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NE Iowa farmer installs bioreactor

A northeast Iowa farmer who installed a bioreactor this spring says it’s one of many tools for improving water quality.

Bob Hemesath of Decorah tells Brownfield he worked with his local NRCS office to identify the right location.

“You have to go down to the edge of a field, or where you can find a tile line that’s out-letting. So what they did is take some aerial maps and elevations and kind of figured how much area they could actually drain through this because (bioreactors) are limited in the amount of capacity you can put through it.”

About 40 acres of tile drains through the spot they chose.

Hemesath says the process was fairly simple.  He dug down to the main tile line at the edge of the field and installed a gate to divert water into the bioreactor.

“Lay some tile in there so the water can get into there, and then covering it up with hard wood chips. The wood chips are supposed to eliminate the nitrates in the water if there are any.”

At that point, he says the water seeps back through the tile line toward the outlet.

Hemesath expects the bioreactor to last about 15 years and says he took advantage of some cost-share through Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

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