Farmer and conservationist Dale Peterson (left) with ARTi CEO Dr. Bernardo del Campo (right)
ARTi’s Solar Powered Biochar Filter Help’s to Preserve Small Lake Ecosystem
Great news in green technology development and biochar implementation from ARTi! ARTi designed and built a water filter full of biochar made for filtration aided by a solar-powered pump which brings water from a lake into the filter. This type of filter system is called a carbon bed filter. The pump is able to run constantly powered by the sunshine. ARTi conducted many research trials to bring this unit into operation. The main features of the filter unit is to address detrimental nutrients and organic materials in the lake which the unit is able to remove. ARTi analyzed the pond water before the filter was installed and further water samples will be taken every six months to see how much the solar powered biochar filter is reducing the nutrients and organic materials in the water. This is also to see how much of the nutrients and organics are being collected in the biochar over time. The biochar will be replaced, and contaminants monitored every 6 months.
A hose goes from the lake to the filter where the water is taken year-round and then returned after passing through filtration by means of a solar-powered pump.
Digital Render of full filter unit.
Biochar bed filter frame
Solar power unit
The small lake, or large pond is a home for catfish and other wildlife as well. The pond is accessed by people for recreation including fishing, bird watching and for visiting the central Iowa scenery. The pond is unique in that it is on the property of a farmer by the name of Dale Peterson who allows people to come by. So, improving the conditions of the lake is a win for everyone. When the overabundant nutrients can be taken out of the lake where they are not helpful but instead can be collected in the biochar in the filter then this a chance to do something different. The nutrient-loaded or “charged” biochar can be put back into Dale’s farmland creating a closed circle system and putting the nutrients where they belong. So, we should tell you a bit about Dale’s farm.
Dale Peterson’s Evergreen Pond with ARTi’s solar-powered biochar filter and a gorgeous Iowa blue sky in the background
In addition to allowing people to visit his pond, Dale also sets aside a plot of his farmland to feed wildlife in the winter. He plants beets and turnips in this plot as cover crops. Cover crops are meant to help take care of the soil rather than be harvested. Cover crops help reduce soil erosion, protect soil quality, fertility and water levels. They can help protect biodiversity and push out weeds and pests. Cover crops can be grown in winter as an off-season crop as Dale makes use of on his one-acre farm. As such, these first beets and turnips are not harvested, but instead are killed off after two months. He then plants turnips and more beets. So, in the winter deer come, dig up the beets and turnips and eat them.
ARTi has had a number of years’ worth of experience working with farmers and landscape companies working in the fertile farmlands of Iowa. Dale works in both areas and like others has grown to see the potential of biochar as part of a next generation of standard agricultural and landscaping practices. See a great article from July 6, 2022, about ARTi’s work in this context in The Gazette, Eastern Iowa’s leading daily newspaper “Product from agriculture waste could become ‘big thing’ for farmers”. See the article here at this link.
The farmland plot used by Dale Peterson for cover crops and wildlife grazing.
The soil in this plot is of very poor quality. It is compacted and low in organic matter. But ARTi and Dale are going to try something different. In a circular type of system, the charged biochar loaded with nutrients from the pond and filter will be added to the field every year. It will be interesting to see how the lake nutrient biochar affects the soil in the field. Dale Peterson is a stand-out farmer as he is a conservationist too. It has been a cool project with a lot of interesting aspects. The next step besides identifying the results will be scaling. Repeating the entire model on a larger scale would be interesting to see. Dale has noted he already can see that the lake water is clearer.
ARTi designed this filter, and the unit can be produced for larger or smaller-scale use. They can be made for floating on a water body or to be placed lakeside. They can be solar powered or not depending on your requirements. Please contact us at ARTi for more information and to discuss your project.
Agronomist from ARTi checks the biochar in the filter system.
The solar component of the carbon bed filtration system.