IFB, U of I partner on woodchip bioreactor videos

Illinois Farm Bureau has partnered with the University of Illinois to create a series of step-by-step videos explaining how to test water in woodchip bioreactors.

The short videos, aimed at non-researchers such as farmers and water quality volunteers, break the process down into five steps – water monitoring; launching and deploying; water sampling; downloading water depth sensors; and “bringing the magic from the field to the lab.”

The videos compliment an article written by Laura Christianson, assistant professor in U of I’s crop sciences department. The article is the first to synthesize available data from full-size bioreactors on working farms across the world.

“After gathering all the data, the message is bioreactors work,” Christianson said. “We’ve shown a 20-40% reduction in nitrate from bioreactors in the Midwest, and now we can say bioreactors around the world are pretty consistent with that.”

IFB and the McHenry County Farm Bureau have been partnering with Christianson and her lab to study the woodchip bioreactor installed through IFB’s Nutrient Stewardship Grant program in 2020, said Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of environmental policy.

“The project is a meaningful collaboration locally with the McHenry County Conservation District, and this set of videos will be critical for volunteer training for purposes of implementing the monitoring that Dr. Christianson’s lab will later analyze,” Lurkins said. “It is the perfect example of the strength of our Nutrient Stewardship Grant program both locally and statewide.”

Christianson said the videos include recommended monitoring approaches “so that more people will build them, and then more people will monitor them. And then we'll have more data to show how well bioreactors work and how we can make them work better.”

The videos, produced by IFB’s video team, can be viewed at this link.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.