Skip links and keyboard navigation


Bioreactors — Links and references

Select from the tabs below


Addy, K, Gold, AJ, Christianson, LE, David, MB, Schipper, LA, and Ratigan, NA, 2016, Denitrifying Bioreactors for Nitrate Removal: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:873–881

Ashoori, N., Teixido, M., Spahr, S., LeFevre, G.H., Sedlack, D.L. and Luthy, R.G. 2019. Evaluation of pilot-scale biochar-amended woodchip bioreactors to remove nitrate, metals, and trace organic contaminants from urban stormwater runoff. Water Research 154:1-11

Barkle, G.F., Schipper, L.A., Burgess, C.P. and Painter, B.D.M. 2008. In situ Mixing of Organic Matter Decreases Hydraulic Conductivity of Denitrification Walls in Sand Aquifers. Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation 28: 57-64.

Bell, N, Cooke, RAC, Olsen, T, David, MB, and Hudson, R, 2015, Characterizing the Performance of Denitrifying Bioreactors during Simulated Subsurface Drainage Events, Journal of Environmental Quality 44:1647–1656

Berger, A.W., Valenca, R., Miao, Y., Ravi, S., Mahenra, S. and Mohanty, S. 2019. Biochar increases nitrate removal capacity of woodchip biofilters during high-intensity rainfall. Water Research 165:115008

Bock, E, Smith, N, Rogers, M, Coleman, B, Reiter, M, Benham, B, and Easton ZM, 2015, Enhanced Nitrate and Phosphate Removal in a Denitrifying Bioreactor with Biochar, Journal of Environmental Quality 44:605–613

Blowes, D.W., Robertson, W.D.,  Ptacek, C.J. and Merkley, C. 1994. Removal of agricultural nitrate from tile-drainage effluent water using in-line bioreactors. J. Contaminant Hydrology 15: 207-221.

Cameron, S. G. and Schipper, L. A. 2010. Nitrate removal and hydraulic performance of organic carbon for use in denitrification beds. Ecological Engineering 36:1588-1595.

Cameron, S.G. and Schipper, L.A., 2012. Hydraulic properties, hydraulic efficiency and nitrate removal of organic carbon media for use in denitrification beds. Ecological Engineering 41, 1-7.

Camilo, B, Matzinger, A, Litz, N, Tedesco, L, and Wessolek, G, 2013 Concurrent nitrate and atrazine retention in bioreactors of straw and bark mulch at short hydraulic residence times. Ecological Engineering 55 (2013) 101 - 113

Camilo, B, 2016 Bioreactor reduces atrazine and nitrate in tile drain waters. Ecological Engineering 86 (2016) 269-278

Cheesman, A, Nelson, P, Lim, H,S,  Todd, S, Kaartinen-Price, J, MacGregor, C, Datta, B,  Owen, L, Ah-Kee, D. 2020 Denitrification bioreactor trial in the Russell River catchment of the Wet Tropics: Final Report. James Cook University, Cairns.

Christianson, L, Castello, A, Christianson, R, Helmers, M and Bhandari, A. 2010 Hydraulic property determination of denitrifying bioreactor fill media. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 26: 849-854.

Christianson, L.E., Bhandari, A. and Helmers, M.J. 2011. Pilot-scale evaluation of denitrification drainage bioreactors: reactor geometry and performance. Journal of Environmental Engineering 137: 213-220.

Christianson, L., Bhandari, A., Helmers, M., Kult, K., Stuphin, T. and Wolf, R. 2012. Performance evaluation of four field-scale agricultural drainage denitrification bioreactors in Iowa. Trans. Am. Soc. Agric Eng. 55: 2163-2174

Christianson, L, Hanly, J, Jha, N, Saggar, S and Hedley, M, 2013 Denitrification bioreactor nitrous oxide emissions under fluctuating flow conditions. An ASABE meeting presentation, Paper no. 131597821.

Christianson, L, Tyndall, J, and Helmers, M, 2013, Financial comparison of seven nitrate reduction strategies for Midwestern agricultural drainage, Water Resources and Economics 2-3 (2013) 30–56

Christianson, L.E., Helmers, M.J., Bhandari, A. and Moorman, T.B. 2013. Internal hydraulics of an agricultural drainage denitrification bioreactor. Ecological Engineering 52: 298-307.

Christianson, LE, Lepine, C, Sharrer, KL, and Summerfelt, ST, 2016 Denitrifying bioreactor clogging potential during wastewater treatment, Water Research 105 (2016) 147 – 156

Christianson, LE, and Schipper, LA, 2016, Moving Denitrifying Bioreactors beyond Proof of Concept: Introduction to the Special Section, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:757–761

Christianson, LE, Lepine, C, Sibrell, PL, Penn, C and Summerfelt ST, 2017, Denitrifying woodchip bioreactor and phosphorus filter pairing to minimize pollution swapping, Water Research 121 (2017) 129-139

Coleman, B.S.L., Easton, Z. M. and Bock, E.M. 2019. Biochar fails to enhance nutrient removal in woodchip bioreactor columns following saturation. Journal of Environmental Management.

David, MB., Gentry, LE, Cooke, RA, and Herbstritt, SM, 2016, Temperature and Substrate Control Woodchip Bioreactor Performance in Reducing Tile Nitrate Loads in East-Central Illinois, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:822–829

Davis, M.P., Martin, E.A., Moorman, T.B., Isenhart, T.M. and Soupir, M.L. 2019. Nitrous oxide and methane production from denitrifying woodchip bioreactors at three hydraulic residence times. Journal of Environmental Management 242: 290-7

Elgood, Z., Robertson, WD, Schiff, SL, and Elgood, R, 2010, Nitrate removal and greenhouse gas production in a stream-bed denitrifying bioreactor, Ecological Engineering 36 (2010) 1575–1580

Fahrner, S. 2002. Groundwater Nitrate Removal using a Bioremediation Trench. Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia, Honours Thesis, 126 pp.

Fenton, O., Healy, M.G., Brennan, F., Jahangir, M.M.R., Lanigan, G.J., Richards, K.G., Thornton, S.F. and Ibrahim, T.G. 2014. Permeable reactive interceptors: blocking diffuse nutrient and greenhouse gases losses in key areas of the farming landscape. Journal of Agricultural Science. 152:71-81.

Fenton, O, Healy, MG, Brennan, FP, Thornton, SF, Lanigan, GJ, and Ibrahim, TG, 2016, Holistic Evaluation of Field-Scale Denitrifying Bioreactors as a Basis to Improve Environmental Sustainability, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:788–795

Goeller, BC, Febria, CM, Harding, JS, and McIntosh AR, 2016, Thinking beyond the Bioreactor Box: Incorporating Stream Ecology into Edge-of-Field Nitrate Management, Journal of Environmental Quality. 45:866–872

Greenan, C. M., Moorman, T. B., Parkin, T. B., Kaspar, T. C., and Jaynes, D. B. 2009. Denitrification in wood chip bioreactors at different water flows. Journal of Environmental Quality 38:1664-1671.

Halaburka, B. J., LeFevre, G. H. and Luthy, R. G. 2017. Evaluation of Mechanistic Models for Nitrate Removal in Woodchip Bioreactors. Environmental Science & Technology 51:5156-5164.Hassanpour, B, Geohring, L, Klein, A, Giri, S, Aristilde, L, and Steenhuis, T, 2019 Application of denitrifying bioreactors for the removal of atrazine in agricultural drainage water. Journal of Environmental Management 239 (2019) 48-56

Hassanpour, B., Giri, S., Pluer, W.T., Steenhuis, T.S. and Geohring, L.D. 2017. Seasonal performance of denitrifying bioreactors in the Northeastern United States: Field trials. Journal of Environmental Management 202, 242-253.

Hassanpour, B, Riazi, S, Pluer, E, Geohring, Guzman, C and Steenhuis, T, 2020 Biochar acting as an electron acceptor reduces nitrate removal in woodchip denitrifying bioreactors. Ecological Engineering 149 (2020) 105724

Hay, CH, and Kult, KJ, 2017, Looking for agricultural water quality protection practices: Denitrifying bioreactors, Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 72(6):129A-132A

Healy, M.G., Ibrahim, T.G., Lanigan, G.J., Serrenho, A.J. and Fenton, O. 2012. Nitrate removal rate, efficiency and pollution swapping potential of different organic carbon media in laboratory denitrification bioreactors. Ecological Engineering 40: 198-209.

Healy, M.G., Barrett, M., Lanigan, G.J., Serrenho, A.J., Ibrahim, T.G., Thornton, S.F. 2015. Optimizing nitrate removal and evaluating pollution swapping trade-offs from laboratory denitrification bioreactors. Ecological Engineering 74: 290-301.

Hoover, N.L., Bhandari, A., Soupir, M.L. and Moorman, T.B., 2016. Woodchip denitrification bioreactors: Impact of temperature and hydraulic retention time on nitrate removal. Journal of Environmental Quality 45: 803-812.

Hua, G., Salo, M.W., Schmit, C.G. and Hay, C.H. 2016. Nitrate and phosphate removal from agricultural subsurface drainage using laboratory woodchip bioreactors and recycled steel byproduct filters. Water Research 102: 180-189.

Ilhan, ZE and Ong, SK (2012) Herbicide and antibiotic removal by woodchip denitrification filters: sorption processes. Water Air Soil Pollution 223 (2012) 2651 - 2662

Ilhan, ZE, Ong, SK and Moorman, TB, 2011 Dissipation of atrazine, enrofloxacin and sulfamethazine in wood chip bioreactors and impact on denitrification. Journal of Environmental Quality 40 (2011) 1816 - 1823

Krause CB. 2016,  Bioreactor reduces atrazine and nitrate in tile drain waters, Ecological Engineering 86 (2016) 269–278

Lepine, C, Christianson, L, Sharrer, K and Summerfelt, S, 2016 Optimizing hydraulic residence times in denitrifying woodchip bioreactors treating recirculating aquaculture system wastewater. Journal of Environmental Quality 45 (2016) 813-821

Lepine, C., Christianson, L., Davidson, J. and Summerfelt, S. 2018. Woodchip bioreactors as treatment for recirculating aquaculture systems’ wastewater: A cost assessment of nitrogen removal. Aquacultural Engineering 83:85-92

Lepine, C, Christianson, L, McIsaac, G and Summerfelt, S, 2020 Denitrifying bioreactor inflow manifold design for treatment of aquacultural wastewater Aquacultural Engineering 88 (2020) 102036

Long, LM, Schipper, LA, and Bruesewitz, DA, 2011, Long-term nitrate removal in a denitrification wall, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 140 (2011) 514–520

Lynn, TJ, Yeh, DH, and Ergas SJ, 2015, Performance of Denitrifying Stormwater Biofilters Under Intermittent Conditions, Environmental Engineering Science Volume 32, Number 9

Manca, F., De Rosa, D., Reading, L. P., Rowlings, D. W., Scheer, C., Layden, I., Irvine-Brown, S., Schipper, L. A., and Grace, P.R. 2020. Nitrate removal and greenhouse gas production of woodchip denitrification walls under a humid subtropical climate. Ecological Engineering 156:1-10.

Manca, F., De Rosa, D., Reading, L.P., Rowlings, D.W., Scheer, C., Schipper, L.A. and Grace, P.R. 2021. Effect of soil cap and nitrate inflow on nitrous oxide emissions from woodchip bioreactors. Ecological Engineering 166.

Manca, F, Wegscheidl, C, Robinson, R, Argent, S, Algar, C, De Rosa, D, Griffiths, M, George, F, Rowlings, D, Schipper, L and Grace, P 2021, Nitrate removal performance of denitrifying woodchip bioreactors in tropical climates, Water, 13, 3608.

Moorman, T.B., Parkin, T.B., Kaspar, T.C. and Jaynes, D.B. 2010. Denitrification activity, wood loss, and N2O emissions over nine years from a wood chip bioreactor. Ecological Engineering 36:1567-1574.

Moorman, TB, Tomer, MD, Smith, DR, and Jaynes, DB, 2014 Evaluating the potential role of denitrifying bioreactors in reducing watershed-scale nitrate loads: A case study comparing three Midwestern (USA) watersheds, Ecological Engineering 75 (2015) 441–448

Nordström, A. and Herbert, R.B. 2018. Determination of major biogeochemical processes in a denitrifying woodchip bioreactor for treating mine drainage. Ecological Engineering 110: 54-66 Partheeban, C., Kjaersgaard, J., Hay, C. and Trooien, T. 2014. A review of factors controlling the performance of denitrifying woodchip bioreactors. An ASABE meeting presentation. Paper number SD14-029.

Pluer, WT, Geohring, LD, Steenhuis, TS, and Walter MT, 2016, Controls Influencing the Treatment of Excess Agricultural Nitrate with Denitrifying Bioreactors, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:772–778

Rambags, F, Tanner, CC, Stott, R, and Schipper, LA, 2016, Fecal Bacteria, Bacteriophage, and Nutrient Reductions in a Full-Scale Denitrifying Woodchip Bioreactor, Journal of Environmental Quality 45:847–854

Ranaivoson, A., Rice, P., Moncrief, J., Feyereisen, G. and Dittrich, M. 2019. Acetochlor and atrazine dissipation in a woodchip denitrifying bioreactor: a comparison of experimental results with model estimates. Ecological Engineering 3(4):286-306.

Rivas, A., Barkle, G., Moorhead, B., Clague, J. and Stenger, R. 2019. Nitrate removal efficiency and secondary effects of a woodchip bioreactor for the treatment of agricultural drainage. In: Nutrient loss mitigations for compliance in agriculture. (Eds L.D. Currie and C.L. Christensen). Occasional Report No. 32. Fertilizer and Lime Research Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. 10 pages.

Robertson, W.D., Blowes, D.W., Ptacek, C.J. and Cherry, J.A. 2000. Long‐term performance of in situ reactive barriers for nitrate remediation. Groundwater 38, 689-695.

Robertson, W.D., Ptacek, C.J. and Brown, S.J. 2007. Geochemical and hydrogeological impacts of a wood particle barrier treating nitrate and perchlorate in ground water. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation 27(2): 85-95.

Robertson, W.D., Vogan, J.L. and Lombardo, P.S. 2008. Nitrate Removal Rates in a 15‐Year‐Old Permeable Reactive Barrier Treating Septic System Nitrate. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation 28(3): 65-72.

Robertson, W.D. and Merkley, L.C. 2009. In-stream bioreactor for agricultural nitrate treatment. Journal of Environmental Quality 38: 230-237.

Robertson, W.D., Ptacek, C.J. and Brown, S.J. 2009. Rates of Nitrate and Perchlorate Removal in a 5‐Year‐Old Wood Particle Reactor Treating Agricultural Drainage. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation 29(2): 87-94.

Robertson, W, 2010, Nitrate removal rates in woodchip media of varying age, Ecological Engineering 36 (2010) 1581–1587

Rosen, T,, and Christianson, L, 2017, Performance of Denitrifying Bioreactors at Reducing Agricultural Nitrogen Pollution in a Humid Subtropical Coastal Plain Climate, Water 2017, 9, 112

Roser, M.B, Feyereisen, G.W., Spokas, K.A., Mulla, D.J., Strock, J.S. and Gutknecht, J. 2018. Carbon dosing increases nitrate removal rates in denitrifying bioreactors at low-temperature high-flow conditions. Surface Water Quality 47 (4):856-864.

Schipper, L.A. and Vojvodić-Vuković, M. 1998. Nitrate removal from groundwater using a denitrification wall amended with sawdust: field trial. Journal of Environmental Quality 27(3):664-668.

Schipper, L.A. and Vojvodić-Vuković, M. 2000. Nitrate removal from groundwater and denitrification rates in a porous treatment wall amended with sawdust. Ecological Engineering 14:269-278.

Schipper, LA, and Vojvodic-Vukovic, M, 2001, Five Years of Nitrate Removal, Denitrification and Carbon Dynamics in a Denitrification Wall, Wat. Res. Vol. 35, No. 14, pp. 3473–3477

Schipper, L.A., Barkle, G.F. Hadfield, J.C., Vojvodic-Vukovic, M. and Burgess, C.P. 2004. Hydraulic constraints on the performance of a groundwater denitrification wall for nitrate removal from shallow groundwater. Journal of Contaminant Hydrolgy 69(3-4): 263-279.

Schipper, L.A., Barkle, G.F. and Vojvodic-Vukovic, M. 2005. Maximum rates of nitrate removal in a denitrification wall. Journal of Environmental Quality 34(4): 1270-1276.

Schipper, L.A., Cameron, S.G. and Warneke, S. 2010. Nitrate removal from three different effluents using large-scale denitrification beds. Ecological Engineering 36(11): 1552-1557.

Schipper, LA, Gold, AJ, and Davidson, EA, 2010, Managing denitrification in human-dominated landscapes, Ecological Engineering 36 (2010) 1503–1506

Schipper, L, Robertson, WD, Gold, AJ, Jaynes, DB, and Cameron, SC, 2010, Denitrifying bioreactors—An approach for reducing nitrate loads to receiving waters, Ecological Engineering 36 (2010) 1532–1543

Schmidt, CA, and Clark, MW, 2012, Efficacy of a denitrification wall to treat continuously high nitrate loads, Ecological Engineering 42 (2012) 203– 211

Sharrer, K.L., Christianson, L.E., Lepine, C. and Summerfelt, S.T. 2016. Modeling and mitigation of denitrification ‘woodchip’ bioreactor phosphorus releases during treatment of aquaculture wastewater. Ecological Engineering 93: 135-143.

Stormwater Australia, 2009, Glossary of Terms used in the Stormwater Industry, Stormwater industry Association, Canberra, ACT (PDF)

USDA-NRCS 2015. Conservation Practice Standard - Denitrifying Bioreactor, Code 605.  (N. R. C. Service, ed.), pp. 4.

Wadnerkar, P, White, S, Morris, S, Conrad, S, Hessey, S, Woodrow, R, Holloway, C, Sanders, C and Santos, I 2022, Nitrate removal and nitrous oxide production from hothouse effluent draining to a pipe bioreactor. Ecological Engineering 178 (2022) 106561

Warneke, S., Schipper, L.A., Bruesewitz, D.A. and Baisden, W.T. 2011. A comparison of different approaches for measuring denitrification rates in a nitrate removing bioreactor. Water Research 45, 4141-4151.

Warneke, S., Schipper, L.A., Bruesewitz, D.A., McDonald, I. and Cameron, S. 2011. Rates, controls and potential adverse effects of nitrate removal in a denitrification bed. Ecological Engineering 37(3): 511-522

Wegscheidl, C, Robinson, R and Manca, F 2021 ‘Using denitrifying bioreactors to improve water quality on Queensland farms’ State of Queensland, Townsville. Available:

Weigelhofer, G, and Hein, T, 2015, Efficiency and detrimental side effects of denitrifying bioreactors for nitrate reduction in drainage water, Environ Sci Pollut Res (2015) 22:13534–13545

White, S, Morris, S, Wadnerkar, P, Woodrow, R, Tucker, J, Holloway, C, Conrad, S, Sanders, C, Hessey, S and Santos, I 2022, Anthropogenic nitrate attenuation versus nitrous oxide release from a woodchip bioreactor. Environmental Pollution 300 (2022) 118814.

Woli, K.P., David, M.B., Cooke, R.A., McIsaac, G.F. and Mitchell, C.A. 2010. Nitrogen balance in and export from agricultural fields associated with controlled drainage systems and denitrifying bioreactors. Ecological Engineering 36(11): 1558-1566

Useful links

Using denitrifying bioreactors to improve water quality on Queensland farms: These guidelines will assist land managers and advisors in deciding whether a bioreactor is suitable for a site and if so, how to design, construct and maintain them to maximise nitrate removal. These guidelines collated and synthesised information from around 15 bioreactor trials conducted in Queensland between 2015 and 2020, together with published literature on bioreactor research in other countries.

Treatment system technologies for improving water quality: This Queensland Government publication portal contains fact sheets and a report on the cost-effectiveness of bioreactors.

Building a bioreactor on a Burdekin cane farm. This timelapse video shows the steps involved in building a bioreactor.

Bioreactor sampling series. This series of videos explain the steps involved in monitoring a bioreactor to estimate nitrate reduction.

Artificial N sinks: This website contains an atlas of where denitrifying bioreactors and constructed wetlands are being researched and implemented.

Main illustration by Lana Baskerville using IAN symbols library.


In addition to the standard disclaimer located at the bottom of the page, please note the content presented is based on published knowledge of treatment systems. Many of the treatment systems described have not been trialled in different regions or land uses in Queensland. The information will be updated as new trials are conducted and monitored. If you have any additional information on treatment systems or suggestions for additional technologies please contact us using the feedback link at the bottom of this page.

Last updated: 26 May 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Bioreactors — Links and references, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation