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Performance of Vegetative Treatment Systems for CAFOs in a northern subhumid climate

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131619798,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Todd P Trooien, Adam W Mathiowetz, Stephen H Pohl, Arvid Boe, Ron Gelderman, Dennis P Todey, Christopher H Hay, Jeppe Kjaersgaard
Keywords:   Vegetative treatment system beef feedlot runoff water quality nitrogen phosphorus.

Abstract. A vegetative treatment system (VTS) may be a viable alternative to a basin for controlling and managing feedlot runoff. The objective of this research was to measure the performance of a VTS for controlling runoff from two feedlots. Each VTS consisted of a solids settling basin and a vegetative treatment area (VTA). The inlet to the VTA was actively controlled at each site. Rainfall and VTA inflow were measured at each site. Short crop reference evapotranspiration (ETo) was used as an estimate of VTA ETc. Total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations were measured in samples of the VTA inflow. Total nitrogen, nitrate-N, and Olsen P were measured in soil samples collected from the VTA near the end of each monitoring season. Biomass yield in the VTA was measured and N and P concentrations were measured in the harvested biomass. Three of the six site-years had above-average rainfall and provided strong tests of the VTS. There were no surface water releases at either site during any of the monitoring periods. Phosphorus accumulated in the top 0.6 m of the soil profile. Total N and nitrate-N contents in the soil varied from year to year but did not accumulate. Harvested biomass removed some N and P each year but much more was added to the VTA in the inflow water. These results show that a well-designed and well-managed VTS can be a viable system for managing feedlot runoff and can prevent surface water release.

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