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Friends of Northern Lake Champlain CIG Grant

posted Dec 19, 2014, 11:17 AM by Lyn Munno
Release from Natural Resources Conservation Service - December 19, 2014

NRCS has selected the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain to receive a Conservation Innovations Grant (CIG) to develop and monitor a phosphorous removal system at the end of a subsurface drain on a farm in Franklin, VT. The $50,000 grant will be used to design 2 treatment systems with 2 different phosphorous filtering media. In addition, the systems will be monitored and evaluated for 2 years and phosphorous loads will be calculated before and after treatment.

Kip Potter, Water Quality Specialist for VT NRCS, explains, “Subsurface drains, otherwise known as tile drains, are nothing new. Farmers have been installing tiles for centuries. We used to support this practice because it was effective in reducing soil wetness and increasing crop production.” NRCS developed an interim practice called “Phosphorus Removal System” for subsurface drainage last year in order to treat the water coming out of the tiles. New research in the Midwest indicates that 60 to 96% of the water that falls on a tile drained field discharges out of the tiles and currently there is no treatment for that water. “Most of the tiles drain into ditches or streams off the farm fields without any treatment,” states Mr. Potter. “Although the water looks clean from tile drains, we now know that dissolved phosphorous is coming out of the end. This project will allow us to monitor the water from 2 tile drains before and after treatment, providing us with more information about the water quality from tiles and how to best remove phosphorus from that water.”

These will be the first systems of their kind in Vermont. In other parts of the country, research has been on bioreactors for nitrogen removal on subsurface drainage, but no one has developed a system for phosphorous removal. “We have already started studying the effectiveness of different media at removing phosphorous with a group of students from UVM and some locally sourced materials are showing promising results. It is important that the material we used can be recycled into a crop management system, so there is incentive to install these systems,” explained Mr. Potter. “Flow data has already been collected and the project is underway”. The systems will be installed in the early spring of 2015.

 

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