Biogeochemistry Laboratory





Lab Group





University of Illinois



Research conducted in our laboratory is focused on the biogeochemistry of nutrients in agricultural, forested, and aquatic ecosystems. We use interdisciplinary research to study complex agricultural systems from a variety of approaches. We firmly believe in field research on real farms (not models!), and we measure the transformation, transport, and effects of nutrients in agricultural and forested landscapes, including aquatic systems. Research areas have included nitrogen and phosphorus biogeochemistry in agricultural ecosystems (see more on agricultural landscape we study); transport of nutrients to surface waters at scales ranging from fields to regions; fate and effects of nutrients in aquatic systems, including denitrification and role of phosphorus in algal production; use of constructed wetlands, bioreactors, cover crops, and fertilizer management to reduce agricultural nutrient losses to surface waters; acidic deposition effects on soils, including sulfur biogeochemistry; forest nutrient cycling; sewage waste disposal; and herbicide transport. We also completed the Illinois Science Assessment, a key part of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

Recent and current projects include:

  1. Reducing Agricultural Nitrate Losses in the Embarras River Watershed through Bioreactors, Constructed Wetlands, and Outreach, PI Mark David with co-PI's Courtney Flint, Richard Cooke, Lowell Gentry, George Czapar, and Robert Hudson funded in 2011 by the USDA NIFA National Integrated Water Quality Program. This project recently ended in August of 2016. See project summary or project website. Fact sheets from project: wetlands, bioreactors.

  2. Nitrogen Management Systems in Tile-Drained Fields: Optimizing Yields while Minimizing Losses, PI Lowell Gentry who has taken over leadership from co-PI Mark David. The other co-PI is Emerson Nafziger in Crop Sciences. Funded in 2014 by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council. This study utilizes a pattern drained field where 36 individual tile laterals are monitored for flow and nitrate concentrations with six treatments and both corn and soybean each year.

  3. Evaluating Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategies: Longer Rotation with Cover Crops and Bioreactors, PI Lowell Gentry with co-PI Mark David. Funded in 2015 by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council. Six pattern tile systems drain fields with corn, soybean, and wheat in rotation.

  4. Sources and Transport of Phosphorus in Tile Drained Agricultural Watersheds Using Advanced Chemical Analysis. Funded in 2016 by USDA NIFA for three years. PI Yuji Arai with co-PI's Mark David and Lowell Gentry. Dr. Arai has taken over leadership of the project with Dr. David's retirement. Study of phosphorus in tile-drained agricultural watersheds. See project summary.

Last Updated November 14, 2017