Azevedo Bioreactor Project Underway

Azevedo Bioreactor Project Underway

Update 02/11/21:  The Azevedo Bioreactor is now up and running and reducing nitrates from entering the Elkhorn Slough.

The Ag Land Trust has been working with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County to install and maintain a wood chip bioreactor in order to reduce fertilizer runoff from our Azevedo ranch.

The Azevedo Ranch is located adjacent to the Elkhorn Slough, which is a sensitive habitat area and home to many species of birds and fish. About twenty years ago, the Ag Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy received a grant to purchase the Azevedo Ranch from the Coastal Conservancy in order to show that an agricultural land trust and an environmental preservation organization could run a viable ranch near the slough while protecting habitat. The Nature Conservancy later transferred it’s half of the property to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. This project will help fulfill the purpose of the original grant.

A wood chip bioreactor is essentially a trench filled with wood chips through which water will travel before leaving the ranch. Bacteria will take up residence in the wood chips, which they will eat, and will “breathe” in any excess nitrate and exhale nitrogen gas, which will escape harmlessly into the atmosphere. For more information, see this article from Purdue University. Check back for updates on our progress!