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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2008 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Research objectives developed in this CRIS are focused on the engineering aspects of managing nutrients in beef cattle manure while minimizing environmental degradation. Our objectives are:.
1)improve and evaluate alternative feedlot runoff control systems using vegetative treatment areas (VTA):.
2)refine EMI techniques for management of cover crop on cropland and movement of nutrients on the feedlot surface:.
3)develop techniques to determine emission flux and area contributing to gaseous emissions from cattle feedlots. Data collected could be used by computer models for predicting gaseous concentrations down wind:.
4)evaluate the occurrence, transmission, and persistence of zoonotic pathogens and fecal indicators in a beef feedlot runoff control with a VTA.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The MARC beef cattle feedlot provides a site for testing various manure management issues. Odor generation and control at the feedlot surface will be investigated with gas emission chambers developed in-house. The feedlot surface will be scanned with an electromagnetic induction meter to precisely locate manure concentrations. Manure from the feedlot will be applied to cropland for utilization where nitrogen management practices, such as winter cover crop, will be evaluated. Precipitation runoff from the feedlot will be controlled with alternative technology that eliminates the need for long-term liquid storage and distribution of liquid on grassed fields. Transport and survival of pathogens contained in manure will be monitored as the runoff passes through the control system and deposited on the vegetation treatment area.

3.Progress Report
All progress addresses NP 206.

Nutrient Mgmt. Component, Area 2–Innovative Tech. for Collection, Storage, and Treatment; Area 3–Mgmt. Tools for Indexing and Eval. Nutrient Fate and Transport. ARS scientists developed a passive runoff control and treatment system designed to reduce the volume of long-term liquid storage, provide adequate solids separation, and evenly distribute basin discharge water and nutrients for grass hay production. Five vegetative treatment areas (VTAs) were approved by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and successfully constructed at USMARC. The system effectively reduced the cumulative mass of total and volatile suspended solids and reduced chemical oxygen demand by 80%, 67%, and 59% of the runoff discharged from the solid separation basin. Managing a vegetative treatment area (VTA) requires an understanding of nutrient distribution across the hayfield. Soil conductivity maps generated by an electromagnetic induction (EMI) sensor have been used to provide valuable insights into nutrient-laden runoff distribution across the VTA. However, these maps provide little specific information on nutrients of environmental concern. A technique was developed using EMI data to generate a response surface design to identify optimal sample locations. The methodology was adapted from the well-established ESAP software suite developed by the ARS Soil Salinity Lab at Riverside, CA. The soils information from research locations combined with soil conductivity data are used to produce a detailed nutrient distribution map.

Atmospheric Emissions Comp, Area 1 and 3: The determination of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from feedlot surfaces has been the focus of much research; micrometeorological estimates of emissions provide average values over large areas but cannot identify specifically where the emissions originate. A dynamic flux chamber was developed to measure gaseous emissions from cattle manure in laboratory and field experiments. The dynamic flux chamber was easy to use and allowed simultaneous measures of relative greenhouse gas emissions from multiple sites on open lot cattle feedlot pens. These chambers are being used with electromagnetic induction (EMI) mapping techniques to direct research and to develop management practices for feedlot surfaces.

Pathogens and PACs Component, Area 4 A study in a USMARC vegetative treatment area (VTA) examined the prevalence of both Escherichia coli O157 and Campylobacter spp. These pathogens are shed by cattle housed in pens, and have been recovered from soils, basin sludge, and basin water. Basin discharge can introduce E. coli O157, Campylobacter spp., and generic E. coli into the VTA. Without additional inputs from the basin, isolation frequencies of E. coli O157 and Campylobacter spp. from VTA soils decrease over time. The isolation of generic E. coli from fresh-cut hay from regions of the VTA that received runoff (3/15 vs. 0/15 control samples) indicates some risk from contamination. E. coli O157 was isolated from only one of 30 treatment samples prior to baling. Neither pathogen was recovered from hay following baling.

1. Use of electromagnetic induction (EMI) and predictive software to manage vegetative treatment area (VTA) sites.

The value of using the EMI in combination with the soil salinity sampling, assessment, and prediction (ESAP) sampling and modeling program is evident when predictive maps of specific nutrients are compared from season to season. Operational characteristics of the USMARC system are revealed by the use of predictive maps. A predictive map made in August, 2005 using EMI and ESAP analysis software clearly indicated disproportionate salt loading across the VTA. An investigation revealed the discharge tubes had settled, allowing more flow out to the VTA in that region. A modification was made to the inlets in the spring of 2006 that allowed a more even flow from the tubes. Relatively uniform flow patterns of salt loading in the latter part of 2006 gave evidence of the success of that modification. Also, images showing nutrient concentrations give evidence that the liquid discharge concentrations appear to extend only about one third the length of the VTA, demonstrating the conservative nature of the VTA design. These figures are indicative of a sustainable system since much of the field does not show nutrient buildup; this view is supported by nutrient balances showing more nutrients leave the hayfield in the hay crop than are deposited by the incoming effluent.

Addresses goals identified under NP 206, Manure and Byproduct Utilization within the Emissions, Nutrient Management and Pathogen section, specifically: Problem Area 2, “Innovative Technology for Collection, Storage, and Treatment,” and Problem Area 3, “Management Tools for Indexing and Evaluating Nutrient Fate and Transport”.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations

6.Technology Transfer

Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings4
Number of Newspaper Articles and Other Presentations for Non-Science Audiences2

Review Publications
Berry, E.D., Woodbury, B.L., Nienaber, J.A., Eigenberg, R.A., Thurston Enriquez, J.A., Wells, J. 2007. Incidence and persistence of zoonotic bacterial and protozoan pathogens in a beef cattle feedlot runoff control - vegetative treatment system. Journal of Environmental Quality 36:1873-1882.

Griffin, T.S., Honeycutt, C.W., Albrecht, S.L., Sistani, K.R., Torbert Iii, H.A., Wienhold, B.J., Woodbury, B.L., Hubbard, R.K., Powell, J.M. 2008. Nationally coordinated evaluation of soil nitrogen mineralization rate using a standardized aerobic incubation protocol. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 39:257-268.

Eigenberg, R.A., Nienaber, J.A., Woodbury, B.L., Ferguson, R.B. 2008. Four-year summary of the use of soil conductivity as a measure of soil and crop status. In: Allred, B., Daniels, J.J., Ehsani, M.R. editors. Handbook of Agricultural Geophysics. Vol. 124. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 273-280.

Gilley, J.E., Berry, E.D., Eigenberg, R.A., Marx, D.B., Woodbury, B.L. 2008. Spatial variations in nutrient and microbial transport from feedlot surfaces. Transactions of the ASABE. 51(2):675-684.

Hubbard, R.K., Bosch, D.D., Marshall, L.K., Strickland, T.C., Rowland, D., Griffin, T.S., Honeycutt, C.W., Albrecht, S.L., Sistani, K.R., Torbert Iii, H.A., Woodbury, B.L., Powell, J.M., Wienhold, B.J. 2008. Nitrogen Mineralization of Broiler Litter Applied to Southeastern Coastal Plain Soils. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 63(4):182-192.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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