Nutrient Management Strategies

North Ottawa Nutrient Capture and Biomass Harvesting

ENRTF-logo   Project Handout

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Project Outcome
The project outcome is to maximize the capture and removal of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients found in surface runoff from the 75 square mile agricultural watershed above the North Ottawa impoundment. The RRBC is working with project partners to develop a natural resource enhancement (NRE) management plan for the North Ottawa impoundment that incorporates water quality benefits into the project. The project utilizes a multiple cell treatment system with pre-treatment sedimentation followed by wetland vegetation treatment for nutrient uptake designed to maximize impoundment water quality benefits through:

  • Surface water management to capture suspended sediments in the impoundment
  • Treatment for nutrient uptake by wetland vegetation
  • Harvesting wetland vegetation (cattails) during optimal times of the growing season to maximize nutrient (phosphorus/nitrogen) removal
  • Utilizing harvested biomass for nutrient cycling or value added products

This project supports the current nutrient reduction strategies being developed by Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.  Over 80% phosphorus and 90% Nitrogen in the Red River is from non-point sources.  We need new tools for addressing future goals of up to 50% reduction in phosphorus loading.

  • Nutrient removal: Harvesting cattails captures nutrients, especially phosphorus that would normally flow downstream to the Red River and eventually to Lake Winnipeg. For each acre of cattails harvested there is a potential to remove approximately 10 –15 pounds of phosphorus from the system.
  • Nutrient recovery:  Application of harvested biomass to agricultural lands as green manure recycles nutrient content for enhancing soil health and fertility.
  • Habitat improvement: Vegetation management leads to improved wildlife habitat. Waterfowl, shorebirds and marshland animal species benefit from stand management and access to more open water areas within marsh areas.
  • Biomass production: Harvested cattails can be turned into compressed fuel products (e.g., pellets and cubes) or torrefied to create a charcoal based product .




The Development of a Stressor-Response Model for the Red River of the North

A binational application of the SPARROW model