A Bio-inspired Multilayer Drainage System


Agricultural run-off and subsurface drainage tiles transport a significant amount of nitrogen and phosphorus leached after fertilization. alchemia-nova GmbH in collaboration with University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna developed two multi-layer vertical filter systems to address the agricultural run-off issue, which has been installed on the slope of an agricultural field in Mistelbach, Austria. While another multi-layer addressing subsurface drainage water is implemented in Gleisdorf, Austria. The goal is to develop a drainage filter system to retain water and nutrients. Both multi-layer filter systems contain biochar and other substrates with adsorption properties of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus). The filter system can be of practical use if an excess of nutrients being washed out is of concern in the fields of the practitioner by keeping the surrounding waters clean. This approach may result in economic value by re-using the saturated biochar as fertilizer and improving the soil structure, thus increasing long-term soil fertility.

Case Study

Where We Test Our Solution

This Solution is tested at Austrian case study sites Mistelbach and Gleisdorf. Mistelbach is an organic farming field and Gleisdorf is both organic and conventional farming field. Partners involved in this solution are alchemia-nova, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, University of Oulu, Martin Regelsberger, Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.

Solution Test Progress

Mistelbach, Austria

At the case study location Mistelbach, solution is in the monitoring season now. Effluent volumes of the three systems, phosphate, nitrate, ammonia and pH are monitored. Also, influent and effluents sample is monitored every time there is a rain event.

  • June 2021 – System installed;
  • 2021 – No data from 2021 due to dry season and no runoff;
  • April 2022 – September 2022 – monitoring season.

Gleisdorf, Austria

At the case study location Gleisdorf, Austria, the influent and effluent of drainage filter system is monitored. Parameters that are monitored are: pH, EC, phosphate, nitrate and ammonia.

  • April 2022 – Prototype produced and installed;
  • April 2022 – Now – monitoring is in progress.


  • WATERAGRI Solution Test Findings, Project Deliverable
  • Assessment of Biochar for Nutrient Retention, Practice Abstract
  • Development of a Bio-inspired Drainage System to Improve Irrigation Practices and Nutrient Retention, Practice Abstract
  • Canga, J. Hartmann, I. Kantauer, J. Kisser. A Bio-inspired Multi-layer Drainage System for Agricultural Surface Runoff and Subsurface Drainage Pipes, Poster published at 5th WATERAGRI General Assembly
Back to top of page