"Without the system, if farmers reuse the wastewater and there is too much phosphorus in it, they can face fines by the EPA," Diaz said. "But during a drought, it is not helpful to have all this water that they cannot use because of the phosphorus content. So with this phosphorus reduction system, farmers can remove the phosphorus and safely use the water."
As a result, the system helps farmers cut costs while following Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Farmers can purchase the system with assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, a federal program that provides assistance to farmers. While competitive systems exist, they are often more expensive, less efficient and less applicable to agricultural wastewater, the researchers said.
"The development of the Phred system provides livestock farms and others with a valuable tool to protect our nation's lakes, streams and estuaries, and KEMA is proud to be the driving force behind its development," said Kylo Heller, director of development for KEMA.
Diaz is now leading related research projects through partnerships with Kansas State University and other organizations. The team is improving the efficiency of the current bioprocessing system by partnering with additional AMI and university researchers, such as Larry Glasgow, professor of chemical engineering.
The researchers are discovering uses for the phosphorus pellets that come from the system. Kimberly Williams, professor of horticulture, worked on a nutrient release study and found several important advantages of phosphorus pellets as fertilizer for lawns and plants. For instance, the pellets are a natural slow-release fertilizer, meaning they slowly release nutrients to plants.
Similarly, the team is looking at ways to decrease phosphorus in cattle feed. Doing so w
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Kansas State University