The Phytobac ldquobiobedrdquo has microirrigation tubes through which water from the rinsate tank is precisely applied to soil where microorganisms break it down The biobed is selfcontained

The Phytobac “biobed” has microirrigation tubes through which water from the rinsate tank is precisely applied to soil where microorganisms break it down. The biobed is self-contained.

European methods for preventing pesticide runoff

European farmers are looking at new ways to keep the pesticides they use on the farm. A “biobed” approach offers a self-contained way to process crop protection products. Microorganisms in the biobed’s soil break down the crop protection products.

During a sustainability farm tour held by Bayer CropScience, Farm Industry News got a look at a few interesting technologies. One was the Phytobac system, a biobased system aimed at keeping pesticide residues from leaving the farm.

This European approach may not work exactly the same if deployed in the U.S., but it offers insight into ways farmers in Europe are pushing up their sustainability. It’s key to note that farms in Europe are, on average, smaller than in the U.S., and closer to towns and cities where there are rising concerns about runoff sewer contamination.

When cleaning out a spray tank, the grower selects the correct drain for rinsate. Red is for water that contains crop protection products.

The system starts with a mixing pad that acts as a catchment area for rinsate water. The user selects the drain in the pad to use — pesticide rinsate or wash water — and the material goes into the right tank.

Using this red drain means material flows into a tank where solids settle out and water on top flows into another tank. This is not clean water, but the first step in the process.

Water from the second tank is sprayed, in a controlled fashion using microirrigation, onto a “biobed.” Microorganisms in the soil break down the crop protection products. Over time the moisture evaporates, and crop protection material from the water is left in the soil bed, where it is contained.

Water from the rinsate tank is sprayed on the biobed in a precise way to keep moisture at about 70%. This enhances microorganism activity in the soil.

A roof overhead keeps rain off and manages the temperature of the biobed; the higher the temperature, the more active the microorganisms. 

In the end, the soil bed can be respread on farm fields and replaced with fresh soil, but the serviceable life is measured in years. It’s a different way to look at containing crop protection products on the farm.

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