Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Joshua W. Faulkner

Second Advisor

Stephanie E. Hurley


Silage bunker runoff is a form of agricultural pollution that contributes to aquatic ecosystem degradation. Current handling and treatment methods for this process wastewater are often ineffective or expensive. A woodchip bioreactor is an emerging treatment technology designed to facilitate denitrification through the provision of an anaerobic, carbon rich environment. A wood chip bioreactor treatment system, consisting of three pre-treatment tanks, two wood chip bioreactors, and one infiltration basin, was constructed at the Miller Research Complex in South Burlington, Vermont in 2016. Runoff and leachate from an adjacent silage storage bunker is directed into the system. The pre-treatment tanks include two settling tanks and one aeration tank. The former allows for sedimentation of organic matter, while the latter is designed to allow for nitrogen transformations that will help maximize nitrogen removal in the bioreactors. During the summer and fall of 2017, sampling occurred at four points within the system in order to determine the efficacy of various treatment steps. Samples were analyzed for nitrate (NOx—N), ammonium (NH4+-N), total nitrogen (TN), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), and total phosphorus (TP) in order to compare inflow and outflow pollutant concentrations and loads. Results indicate that this treatment system significantly reduced nutrient loads in the runoff. Over the entirety of the sampling period, the influent TN and TP mass load were both reduced by approximately 44%.



Number of Pages

86 p.