Evaluating the Performance of Denitrifying Bioreactors for Removal of Agricultural Nitrate from Tile-Drainage Effluent

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Title: Evaluating the Performance of Denitrifying Bioreactors for Removal of Agricultural Nitrate from Tile-Drainage Effluent
Authors: Flemming, Corey
Date: 2016
Abstract: The application of nitrogen (N) fertilizers and manure to agricultural soil is essential for crop production, but has in turn introduced environmental impacts including: eutrophication, contamination of groundwater, freshwater acidification, and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The movement of nitrogen was observed following liquid swine manure applications at six fields in Winchester, ON employing controlled tile drainage and denitrifying bioreactors. The manure was mainly in the form of ammonium during application where it was transformed to other N species including nitrate and nitrous oxide (N2O) by microbial activity in soil. Large soil N2O fluxes occurred in fields throughout 2012 and 2013, and total N of soil in the fields was enriched in 15N, indicating denitrification. Soil nitrate was also leached and collected by drainage tiles, and a portion of the tile water was treated by denitrifying bioreactors. Previous studies have demonstrated that denitrification of nitrate in bioreactors elicits the production of N2O, which is emitted from the overlying soil surface and/or is released as dissolved N2O in tile effluent. In this study, it is found that a decrease in nitrate was associated with decreasing levels of nitrous oxide during a rain event, and no significant N2O flux was recorded above bioreactors throughout either year. The δ15N and δ18O signatures of nitrate did not change significantly following bioreactor treatment and did not exhibit the 15N and 18O enrichment that is characteristic of denitrification. The data demonstrates that the decrease in nitrate through the bioreactors was due to dilution, likely from the accumulation of rainfall in reactor beds employing controlled tile drainage. Further work is needed to examine the conditions under which dilution may occur in place of denitrification.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35206
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-164
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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