Australian pineapple, Danish trout, and Midwestern U.S. corn farmers are not often lumped together under the same agricultural umbrella. But they and many others who raise crops and animals face a common problem: excess nitrogen in drainage water. Whether it flows out to the Great Barrier Reef or the Gulf of Mexico, the nutrient contributes to harmful algal blooms that starve fish and other organisms of oxygen. But there’s a simple solution that significantly reduces the amount of nitrogen in drainage water, regardless of the production system or location: denitrifying bioreactors. “Nitrogen pollution from farms is relevant around the world, from corn and bean farms here in Illinois to sugarcane and pineapple farms in Australia to diverse farms bordered by ditches in Belgium. We’re all dealing with this issue. It’s really exciting that bioreactors are bringing us together around a potential solution,” says Laura Christianson, assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author on a new synthesis article accepted for publication in Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) . Denitrifying bioreactors come in many shapes and sizes, but in their simplest form, they’re trenches filled with […]

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