Another Bioreactor Constructed in the Cedar Creek Partnership Water Quality Initiative Project: James Campbell - Martinsburg, Iowa

Lanessa Baker, Project Coordinator for the Cedar Creek Partnership Watershed Demonstration project recently  conducted a follow up interview with James Campbell, a local farmer who partnered with the project to install  a bioreactor in November of 2017.

Tell us about your operation

 “I have 500 acres of row crops in Keokuk and Wapello Counties and raise feeder pigs.” James is also a Seed Sales Rep for Pioneer. 

What made you decide to install a bioreactor?

“I knew about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and that these structures need to be installed.” A bioreactor is a buried pit filled with a carbon source commonly woodchips. The woodchips provide a food source for microorganisms, and the tile water is diverted into the pit. Then microorganisms break down nitrates in the water and release it as a harmless gas. “This field was a good place to start on to filter any nitrates from the operation.”  

Now that you have a bioreactor installed, what do you think about it?

“I think it was a viable conservation practice to try, and it wasn’t too big of a project.”  

What other water quality practices have you used on your farm?

“CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) buffer strips, terraces, waterways, I  have also used no-till and follow the manure plan.”

Why did you voluntarily adopt these practices?

“Largely to address erosion, it’s an issue on the Wapello County farm.” 

What, if any, assistance did you receive to adopt these practices (financial as well as technical)?

“We had assistance on design for terraces, and CRP rental payments. The bioreactor was designed by ISG and I received Federal cost share to install that project.” 

 What is your philosophy as it relates to farming and the environment?

“I feel strongly that we can’t continue to misuse our resources we have inherited, so that the next generation can make a living off the land. We have to get serious as a culture to alleviate phosphorus and nitrogen runoff figuring out every way we can to get that done. It’s going to take a considerable effort to clean up the environment so it’s suitable.”  

Will Myers