Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses from croplands contribute to impairment of water bodies. This study was conducted to test candidate denitrifying bioreactor media for nitrate-N and dissolved reactive P (DRP) removal from agricultural effluent in drainage ditches. The nitrate-N and DRP removal performance of carbon materials widely available in the Midwest, wood chips (WC) and corn cobs (CC), were compared to treatments of mixed materials: wood chips and hardwood biochar (WC+BC), wood chips and sodium acetate (WC+A), corn cobs and modified coconut coir (CC+MC), and corn cobs, modified coconut coir, and modified macadamia biochar (CC+MC+MBC). Water with a nitrate-N concentration of 20 mg N L-1 and a DRP concentration of 0.3 mg P L-1 was pumped through PVC columns packed with treatment media. The flow rate was adjusted to match the rise and decay of a typical drainage hydrograph. Effluent was sampled after hydraulic residence times (HRT) of 1.5, 8, 12, and 24 h. The laboratory experiment was conducted at 15°C for 14 weeks, 5°C for 13 weeks, and 15°C again for 7 weeks in a temperature controlled chamber, designated the warm run, cold run and rewarm run, respectively. Nitrate-N load reductions ranged from 24% to 96% in the warm and rewarm runs and from 4% to 80% in the cold run. Nitrate-N load reduction performance at all temperatures was in the order of: WC+A > CC+MC > CC > CC+MC+MBC > WC > WC+BC. The nitrate removal rate (NRR) was highest at the 1.5h HRT for the WC+A treatment at all temperatures. Cumulative DRP load reductions in the warm and rewarm runs were statistically higher in the CC, CC+MC, and CC+MC+MBC treatments, with DRP load reductions of 74%, 81%, and 67%, respectively. The WC+A treatment had the highest DRP load reduction in the cold run, with a 45% reduction. The CC, CC+MC, and CC+MC+MBC treatments had both high NRR and high DRP percent concentration removal in the warm and rewarm runs, but the WC+A treatment had higher removal of both nutrients in the cold run and specifically at lower HRTs. For both nitrate-N and DRP load reductions during high flows and cold temperatures, WC+A would be the recommended treatment. Future work should focus on the addition of carbon such as sodium acetate to enhance bioreactor performance during high drainage and cold temperature conditions.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. June 2016. Major: Land and Atmospheric Science. Advisors: Gary Feyereisen, David Mulla. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 95 pages.
Using unique carbon source combinations to increase nitrate and phosphate removal in bioreactors.
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