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Woodchip Heavy-Use Area Effluent Quality, Quantity, and Hydrologic Design Considerations

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

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 31(5): 783-790 . (doi: 10.13031/aea.31.11117) @2015
Authors:   Joshua W Faulkner, John L Miller, Thomas J Basden, David B DeVallance
Keywords:   Best management practices, Feedlots, Heavy use area, Out wintering, Wood chips.

Abstract. Woodchip heavy-use areas (aka ‘out-wintering pads,‘ ‘woodchip pads‘) are attractive options for livestock producers wanting to protect pastures during sensitive times due to their reduced cost and increased animal comfort compared to concrete. The effluent production, and potential environmental impact, of these systems is uncertain and engineers need reliable guidance for design of corresponding wastewater handling systems. The objectives of this project were to 1) evaluate the hydrologic performance of a woodchip heavy-use area installed in the Northeastern United States over two years of operation, and 2) improve estimation of effluent production methods and design guidance using measured data. Precipitation and effluent volumes were measured over 23 months and nutrient concentration of effluent from multiple storms was analyzed. A water balance was determined. Measured data indicated that 24% of the incoming precipitation became effluent over the study period, but effluent production was much greater during the winter months (37%) than during the non-winter months (17%). Evaporation dominated water outflows from the system (67%-84%). Absorption and evaporation of moisture by the woodchip media, and resulting antecedent moisture condition, greatly influence effluent production. Regionally-specific runoff coefficients are compared to other design approaches and presented as appropriate for effluent volume estimation. Nutrient concentration of effluent was generally lower than reported values from other woodchip, earthen, and concrete open lot studies. Additional research is needed.

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