Virtual Field Day: Woodchips and Water Quality - Exploring Species and Chipping Methods to Maximize Bioreactor Efficiency

Thursday, February 8, 2024 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

To participate in the live virtual field day, shortly before 1:00 pm CT on February 8, click HERE.

Or, join from a dial-in phone line:
Dial: 312-626-6799
Meeting ID: 986 0833 5082 

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and Conservation Learning Group (CLG), is hosting a free virtual field day on Thursday, February 8 at 1 p.m. CT. Join us for a live discussion with Michelle Soupir, professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist at Iowa State University and Ji Yeow Law, agricultural engineer at Iowa State University.

Denitrifying bioreactors are a key tool for reducing nitrate losses from Iowa’s landscape by routing tile drainage water through a trench filled with woodchips that encourages the process of denitrification. Currently, there are approximately two approved vendors of woodchips and with nearly 120,000 bioreactors called for in one of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s scenarios, there is a significant need for woodchips to fill those bioreactors. This virtual field day explores a new project led by Soupir and Beck to explore different woodchips used in bioreactors, as well as improving woodland management options for farmers and landowners to promote health and resilience of forested areas.

“With the need to significantly increase the number of bioreactors, we are looking at an all-sources approach,” noted Soupir. “This project looks to explore finding more wood, different types of wood, possibly different sized woodchips or even shredded wood to help provide the needed materials and maintain or improve the effective nitrate removal from these bioreactors.”

“Without active management, we are seeing a buildup of shade-tolerant species in the forest understory, like hackberry and basswood, leading to overstocked or crowded forests,” commented Beck. “While shade-tolerant species play an important ecological role, thinning overstocked woodlands will result in vigorous stands more resilient to disease, climatic shifts and other stressors.. This project also aims to develop a stronger market value for these species and promote more active forest management.”

Virtual Field Day Access Instructions:

To participate in the live virtual field day at 1:00 pm CT on February 8, to learn more, click this URL:  or visit

 Or, join from a dial-in phone line:
Dial: 309-205-3325 or 312-626-6799
Meeting ID: 986 0833 5082 

The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time. The archive will be available at

Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the CEU (if approved) will be provided at the end of the event.