Home Farm Equipment Removing tile water nutrients aims to improve nearby lakes

Removing tile water nutrients aims to improve nearby lakes


Many years earlier than soil well being turned a acknowledged precious science, Charlie Hammer and Nancy Kavazanjian launched their Wisconsin household farm in 1980 with the motto, “Our Soil, Our Strength.”

“We dedicated ourselves to doing what’s best for our soils and our crops 41 years ago,” Kavazanjian says. “All of our conservation and agronomic efforts to build healthier soils continue to pay benefits. And we’ve always been very involved in water quality because we have many lakes here in Wisconsin. Now we’ve installed an innovative proof-of-concept system to remove phosphorus from tile water and keep nutrients on the land.”

Hammer has continued the innovator legacy on the fourth-generation farm that’s been within the household since his great-grandparents immigrated from Germany in 1866, shopping for 173 acres close to Beaver Dam.

“We’ve added small grains and cover crops to our crop rotation, along with variable-rate nutrients to improve crop fertility and water quality, but we wanted to take the next step of filtering our tile water,” he says.

Mining-water filter expertise

It was a dinner desk dialogue with Kavazanjian’s brother that introduced Arizona mining water reclamation expertise to its first on-farm trial in a 70-acre Wisconsin discipline.

Hammer and Kavazanjian have been discussing the deserves of an edge-of-field bioreactor to take away nitrates. “My brother Ed Kavazanjian Jr., a geotechnical engineer at Arizona State University, asked why we weren’t considering phosphorus removal, which neither of us knew existed,” she remembers.

The revolutionary phosphorus-removal expertise utilizing slag, a metal byproduct, was lab-tested at ASU for greater than a 12 months.

“Once we had proof-of-concept that it removed phosphorus from water in the lab, while allowing for the use of a downstream bioreactor to manage nitrogen, our next step was a field demonstration. And Nancy and Charlie agreed to host the field site,” explains Nasser Hamdan, a senior investigator on the mission for ASU’s Middle for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics.

To additional help with this water high quality effort, the Hammer Kavazanjian Farm obtained a Conservation Demonstration Grant from the American Soybean Affiliation and the Walton Household Basis. They have been one among three farm operations to obtain a cost-share grant to show new next-level conservation practices. ASA and Walton Household Basis Conservation Champions and ASA’s Conservation Legacy Award winners from the previous 5 years have been eligible to apply for the grant.

Set up gravity-fed system

One among ASU’s business contacts equipped slag for the mission for the price of transporting it to the positioning. Kunkel Engineering Group in Beaver Dam, the native workplace of one other ASU business companion, offered design and discipline supervision final fall for gratis to the mission. They chose the sting of a 70-acre discipline that tile-drains right into a wetland after which right into a nearby leisure lake.

The phosphorus filter design features a smaller geomembrane-lined, rock-covered filter pit that accommodates metal slag. Area tile traces, with shutoff valves, feed the water into this slag filter after which into a bigger open holding pond, the place the P precipitates out.

“Once the soluble phosphorus in the water hits the steel slag, a chemical reaction begins to remove the phosphorus out of the water,” Hammer says. “We see positive phosphorus reduction already, but the engineers want at least six months of data.”

PHOSPHORUS FILTER: Area tile traces with shutoff valves feed water into this phosphorus filter, a geomembrane-lined, rock-covered filter pit that accommodates metal slag. Water then flows into a bigger open holding pond, the place the P precipitates out.

Hamdan likes the present progress with this phosphorus removing system. “We’ve seen near-complete removal, which is impressive to achieve because it’s more difficult to remove P in tile water that already has a low P level,” Hamdan says.

Local people and municipality assist

The 2 lake associations surrounding the lake on the opposite aspect of the wetland need to assist by offering funds. Kavazanjian says they’re so excited, they need 5 – 6 extra filters put in. “We’ve had to rein them in until we have proof-of-concept,” she says.

She additionally notes that watershed teams and several other space sewer districts have an interest within the outcomes as a result of they want to cut back phosphorus in sewage therapy crops. “If they can buy or swap credits, that could be something that they pay us for, which is a win-win for everybody.”

Like his dad and grandparents, Hammer is pleased with their farm’s revolutionary practices over the many years. “What’s even more important is to demonstrate the technology value to a wider network of farmers, watershed and conservation groups, and our lake association neighbors,” he says. “We plan to host a field day in 2021 to showcase the results.”

There are a lot of phosphorus sources — from soil and rocks to farm fields, fertilized lawns, wastewater therapy crops, animal manure and industrial cleansing merchandise — so it’s a problem throughout many industries.

Bioreactor addition in 2nd section

ASU, Kunkle Engineering and Hammer Kavazanjian Farm plan to try one other innovation: including a bioreactor to this technique to take away nitrates and phosphorus from the tile water.

“We’d love to perfect a combination system that brings us clean water so we can show the community that we are part of the solution,” Kavazanjian says.

Hamdan says they initially performed lab analysis to take away phosphorus and nitrates concurrently — a bioreactor system utilizing wooden chips and slag. “Since nitrate removal takes longer than phosphorus, this process was not very efficient. But we learned that while the chemistry from the slag imparted changes to pH and alkalinity changes in the water, it had no significant impact on the microbes needed for denitrification to remove nitrate,” he provides. “So, we can attach a bioreactor to our phosphorus removal system.”

“One thing we’ve already learned from this project is that our current agronomic and cover crop practices show a reduced level of phosphorus,” Kavazanjian provides. “Now, with help from the Walton Family Foundation, we can help fund the bioreactor to reduce our nitrate levels.”

Large innovation, conservation historical past

Winners of the ASA Conservation Legacy Award in 2020, Hammer and Kavazanjian have labored arduous to go away a legacy of more healthy soil, lowered erosion, vitality conservation, habitat for pollinators and wildlife, and precision expertise funding to cut back inputs.

A solar array that powers Charlie Hammer and Nancy Kavazanjian  farm shop on sunny days

RENEWABLE FUELS: Being advocates of renewable vitality, Charlie Hammer and Nancy Kavazanjian added a photo voltaic array three years in the past that powers their farm store on sunny days. In 2009, they added a wind turbine that spins their electrical meter backward on windy days to pay for itself. They usually use ethanol and biodiesel to energy their automobiles and tools on their 1,800-acre crop farm.

“Along with my parents, I give credit to my buddy, Illinois farmer Jim Kinsella, as a valuable early mentor,” Hammer says. “He taught me the importance of no-till and paying attention to soil biology, compaction, crop residue — not trash — and keeping living crops growing on set-aside acres back in the 1980s and ’90s.”

Hammer and Kavazanjian love to incorporate revolutionary conservation practices past agronomics. They’re renewable-energy advocates, including a wind turbine in 2009 that spins their electrical meter backward on windy days to pay for itself. Three years in the past, they added a photo voltaic array that powers their farm store on sunny days. They usually use ethanol and biodiesel to energy their automobiles and tools.

Community and assist agriculture

Whereas innovation has its share of pitfalls, the couple emphasizes the significance of beginning small and in search of assist from household, associates and enterprise companions to survive and thrive. “Your commodity organizations like ASA offer great resources to network and learn,” Kavazanjian says. “We’ve had great partnerships on projects with Natural Resources Conservation Service, our local Farm Service Agency, local watershed and other groups that have helped us with various practices.”

Hammer loves to join with a community of like-minded farmer-friends in a social media group that shares revolutionary successes and failures.

“Both Nancy and I encourage young farmers to find their network of people to share ideas that can help improve your business and your conservation practices,” Hammer says.

ASA is pleased with its conservation legacy and partnership with the Walton Household Basis. The Walton household has an extended legacy of affection for the outside. The inspiration works with organizations like ASA to align coverage and market incentives to encourage farmers to undertake practices that improve water high quality, improve soil well being and cut back air pollution throughout the Mississippi River basin.

Supply: American Soybean Affiliation, which is liable for the knowledge offered and is wholly owned by the supply. Informa Enterprise Media and its subsidiaries aren’t liable for any of the content material contained on this data asset.


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