ISTC’s Wei Zheng will showcase his research project “Designer Biochar to Capture and Recycle Phosphorous from Tile Drainage Systems” at the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Fulton County Field Day on July 16.
Zheng and team have proposed to combine a woodchip bioreactor with designer biochar at the tile drain outlet to capture phosphorus within the biochar. The biochar can be removed from the bioreactor system periodically and spread over the field as a form of slow release phosphorus fertilizer. They predict that the system will prevent excess nutrients from the phosphorus from entering local waterways and, if used throughout Illinois farmlands, will help reduce Illinois nutrient load to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
Besides an inside look at Zheng’s research, the Field Day will feature additional research tours on vegetative buffer strips and drainage water recycling at the MWRD site, 15779 County Road 5, Cuba, IL. Registration starts at 11 a.m., followed by the tours from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Attendance is free, and lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is still available by calling the Fulton County Farm Bureau at 309-547-3011 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midwestern farms use subsurface drainage to manage water on their fields. The process uses perforated conduits to remove excess water from soil, which increases crop production and promotes soil conservation. However, these drainage systems can also transport large quantities of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural fields to surrounding watersheds.
ISTC researchers Wei Zheng and BK Sharma have received a $414,380 grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council to develop designer biochars that will capture and recycle phosphorus from tile drainage systems. The project will run from January 1, 2019 – February 28, 2023.
The objectives of this project are to:
- create designer biochars to effectively adsorb phosphorus,
- construct refillable biochar-sorption-channels to capture phosphorus from subsurface tile drainage, and
- recycle phosphorus-captured biochars as a slow-released fertilizer.
The overall project goal is to develop a method that will minimize nutrient losses, keep phosphorus in the closed agricultural loop, and improve crop yields by enhancing nutrient use efficiency.
The research team will conduct laboratory experiments to produce designer biochars by pyrolysis of biomass pre-treated with lime sludge, evaluate their sorption capacities on phosphorus, and optimize their production conditions.
The team will also complete a field study to capture phosphorus losses from subsurface drainage systems via biochar-sorption-channels. The field study will be performed at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Research site in Fulton County. Furthermore, they will conduct a greenhouse experiment to use phosphorus-captured biochars as a slow-released fertilizer to improve crop yields.
Finally, they will perform a cost-benefit analysis and compare their technique with other best management practices (BMPs) on phosphorus removal studied at the same field location.
The successful completion of this project will offer an innovative, feasible, and cost-effective method for enhancing nutrient utilization, which will increase crop production and protect water quality in the Midwest.
Join us on May 21-22 for the 2019 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference (ECEC19). Registration will be open until May 3. View the draft agenda on the ECEC19 website.
About the Conference
ECEC19 will be held on May 21-22, 2019, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign, IL. This year the conference will expand beyond the aquatic environment to also include air and soil studies along with effects on human and animal health.
The conference will feature presentations and posters on the latest in emerging contaminant research, policies, and outreach. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities for discussion and networking with those interested in all aspects of emerging contaminants in the environment.
Researchers, educators, businesses, government officials, regulatory agencies, policy makers, outreach and extension professionals, environmental groups, members of the general public, and medical, veterinary, and public health professionals are encouraged to attend the conference.
The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant are cohosting this conference.
- Thomas Bruton – PFAS Research and Policy Lead, Green Science Policy Institute
- Robert C. Hale – Professor of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
- Susan D. Richardson – Arthur Sease Williams Professor of Chemistry, University of South Carolina
Read more about the keynotes.
- Thomas Burton – PFAS Research and Policy Lead, Green Science Policy Institute
- Iseult Lynch – Professor and Chair of Environmental Nanosciences at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham
- Yujie Men – Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
- Katie Nyquist – Principal Planner for the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Initiative at the Minnesota Department of Health
- Heiko Schoenfuss – Director of Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory and Professor of Anatomy at St. Cloud State University
- Krista Wigginton – Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan
Read more about the panelists.