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Article

Nitrate Removal Performance of Denitrifying Woodchip Bioreactors in Tropical Climates

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Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George Street, Brisbane 4000, Australia
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Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 9-15 Langton Street, Garbutt 4814, Australia
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Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 47 Mayers Road, Nambour 4560, Australia
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Berries Australia, P.O. Box 578, Archerfield 4108, Australia
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Copper Resources Australia, 45 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000, Australia
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Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government, Brisbane 4000, Australia
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Terrain NRM, 63 Anderson Street, Manunda 4870, Australia
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School of Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jongkwon Im, Xuwang Zhang, Laura Bulgariu, Christos S. Akratos and Francisco Osorio
Water 2021, 13(24), 3608; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243608
Received: 8 November 2021 / Revised: 8 December 2021 / Accepted: 9 December 2021 / Published: 15 December 2021
In Australia, declining water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a threat to its marine ecosystems and nitrate (NO3) from sugar cane-dominated agricultural areas in the coastal catchments of North Queensland is a key pollutant of concern. Woodchip bioreactors have been identified as a potential low-cost remediation technology to reduce the NO3 runoff from sugar cane farms. This study aimed to trial different designs of bioreactors (denitrification walls and beds) to quantify their NO3 removal performance in the distinct tropical climates and hydrological regimes that characterize sugarcane farms in North Queensland. One denitrification wall and two denitrification beds were installed to treat groundwater and subsurface tile-drainage water in wet tropics catchments, where sugar cane farming relies only on rainfall for crop growth. Two denitrification beds were installed in the dry tropics to assess their performance in treating irrigation tailwater from sugarcane. All trialled bioreactors were effective at removing NO3, with the beds exhibiting a higher NO3 removal rate (NRR, from 2.5 to 7.1 g N m−3 d−1) compared to the wall (0.15 g N m−3 d−1). The NRR depended on the influent NO3 concentration, as low influent concentrations triggered NO3 limitation. The highest NRR was observed in a bed installed in the dry tropics, with relatively high and consistent NO3 influent concentrations due to the use of groundwater, with elevated NO3, for irrigation. This study demonstrates that bioreactors can be a useful edge-of-field technology for reducing NO3 in runoff to the GBR, when sited and designed to maximise NO3 removal performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: denitrification; woodchip bioreactor; denitrification bed; denitrification wall; nitrogen; nitrate; sugarcane; tile-drainage; tropical climate; Australia denitrification; woodchip bioreactor; denitrification bed; denitrification wall; nitrogen; nitrate; sugarcane; tile-drainage; tropical climate; Australia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Manca, F.; Wegscheidl, C.; Robinson, R.; Argent, S.; Algar, C.; De Rosa, D.; Griffiths, M.; George, F.; Rowlings, D.; Schipper, L.; Grace, P. Nitrate Removal Performance of Denitrifying Woodchip Bioreactors in Tropical Climates. Water 2021, 13, 3608. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243608

AMA Style

Manca F, Wegscheidl C, Robinson R, Argent S, Algar C, De Rosa D, Griffiths M, George F, Rowlings D, Schipper L, Grace P. Nitrate Removal Performance of Denitrifying Woodchip Bioreactors in Tropical Climates. Water. 2021; 13(24):3608. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243608

Chicago/Turabian Style

Manca, Fabio, Carla Wegscheidl, Rhianna Robinson, Suzette Argent, Christopher Algar, Daniele De Rosa, Matthew Griffiths, Fiona George, David Rowlings, Louis Schipper, and Peter Grace. 2021. "Nitrate Removal Performance of Denitrifying Woodchip Bioreactors in Tropical Climates" Water 13, no. 24: 3608. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243608

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