Theiling hopes the willow rafts have a successful growth outcome because they are the only biodegradable option the project has found.
“The commercial products are nice but they are not recyclable. That just creates more garbage in the environment,” Theiling said.
The willow rafts are also the most economically sound option because the materials are free, but labor costs still must be taken into account.
One of the most important outcomes for this project is to successfully mix economics with ecology. Farmers need to be able to make money from the floating treatment wetlands in order for them to want to participate, he said.
If the experiment does succeed, Theiling and his group can apply for government funding through the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and then apply the ideas through a national and a global spectrum.