An Innovative System for Bioremediation of Agricultural Chemicals for Environmental Sustainability

EPA Grant Number: SU833682
Title: An Innovative System for Bioremediation of Agricultural Chemicals for Environmental Sustainability
Investigators: Kalita, P. , Davidson, Paul C.
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: July 7, 2007 through July 6, 2009
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2007) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The overall objective of this Phase II research project is to design, implement, and evaluate a renewable, naturally available biofilter to minimize the transport of chemicals from agricultural fields into surface water sources. The specific objectives of this project are to (1) implement a field-scale biofilter based on results from Phase I and evaluate its effectiveness, (2) continue evaluating the efficiency of materials for bioremediation of aqueous contaminants, (3) investigate how retention time affects bioremediation of aqueous contaminants, and (4) based on results from objective (3), provide recommendations to implement biofilter technology to reduce contaminant discharge from agricultural areas as well as septic systems and wastewater treatment facilities.


The hypothesis of Phase II research is that a hardwood biofilter media placed along the drain tile in a real-world field condition will significantly reduce the amount of chemicals leaching from agricultural fields. The proposed research will be conducted at two locations. The laboratory experiments will be performed at the University of Illinois. Field research for implementation will be performed at the University of Illinois South Farms and the acquisition of the site has already been approved. Further field research may be performed in sites within central Illinois with the cooperation of farmers and drainage contractors. The field experiments will allow effluent concentration under actual field conditions.

Expected Results:

The proposed research integrates social benefit, economic prosperity, and sustainable environmental protection for application of water quality safeguards through all-natural, renewable products. We are seeking to extend our current research to additional relevant contexts across the world. The proposed biofilter is naturally available and renewable that eliminates hazardous chemicals from water without introducing additional contaminants to the system. This research will develop a bioremediation technology that can be applied to remove agricultural pollutants from drainage discharge and provide environmental sustainability.

Supplemental Keywords:

Biofiltration, conservation, engineering, hydrology, nitrate, pesticides,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008 Progress Report
  • Final Report

  • P3 Phase I:

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