13 Aug, 2018

Phoslock is being used in test systems removing phosphorous from agricultural runoff in Ontario, Canada

A group of proactive Canadian farmers have teamed up with several government organisations to further investigate agricultural phosphorous runoff.

An article published in a community publication Chatham Voice (an independent, locally owned community newspaper that serves Chatham, Ontario) states that “excess phosphorous is considered to be the main cause of the algae blooms that seem to crop up annually on Lake Erie”.

A new phosphorus reduction and monitoring system is being tested on a farm located many kilometres away from Lake Erie. The system contains “two holding tanks, a catch basin, and two automated and programmable water testing stations”. Phoslock is used in both holding tanks to filter and remove dissolved phosphate from the runoff water. According to the authors of the article, “the system collects and filters tiled runoff from a 25-acre plot of land that contains seed corn and grain”.

Colin Little,  the agricultural program co-ordinator with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Area (LTVCA), said that “the filter is designed to help achieve the goal of 40-per-cent phosphorous reduction as outlined in the Lake Erie Action Plan, a joint initiative of the Ontario and federal governments.”“The pilot-project systems can test the quality of the water coming directly off the field, as well as the water heading out of the catch basin and into the drain.”

Representatives of the project have stated that “the preliminary figures indicate the filter is working better than expected, as it has pulled more phosphorous out of the water than what was anticipated. An added bonus is that the filter appears to also remove some of the nitrogen from the runoff as well.”

The article states that “there are five test sites at various farms throughout the municipality at this point. Little estimated the price for a farmer to purchase such a system would be at about $10,000 currently, but that number could decrease, as this is a pilot project and it’s a new system.”

Phoslock binds dissolved phosphorus to form the inert mineral, Rhabdophane. Once bound, the phosphorus is no longer available for uptake by algae.  The addition of Phoslock to the farm test systems has assisted in removing dissolved phosphorus from runoff before it enters Lake Erie.

The filtering system containing Phoslock is a simple and cheap method to significantly remove large amounts of phosphate from agricultural runoff. This sort of system could be easily used in similar situations around the world to significantly reduce to concentration of nutrients entering water ways and causing blue green algal blooms.

The full article can be found at: https://chathamvoice.com/2018/08/01/test-systems-removing-phosphorous-from-field-runoff/