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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 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 and identify characteristics that are particularly effective in limiting the movement of zoonotic pathogens and fecal indicators through different vegetative treatment areas, to support development of recommendations that can be implemented by feedlot operators.

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
This is the final report for the project 5438-63000-011-00D, which expired in May 2010. Substantial results were realized over the 5 years of the project. Some objectives will be expanded upon during the new 5-year project 5438-41630-001-00D.

ARS scientists developed a runoff control system that reduced long-term liquid storage and evenly distributed basin discharge for hay production. The nutrients contained in the solids were removed from the basin annually. The remaining nutrients and basin discharge water were distributed to a vegetative area for hay production. The sustainability of the system has been demonstrated since nutrients are removed from the system in the harvested hay in amounts equivalent to the amount added from the basin discharge. Managing vegetative treatment systems (VTS) required understanding of nutrient distribution. Soil conductivity maps measured by electromagnetic induction (EMI) provided valuable insights into water distribution. A technique was developed using EMI to identify optimal soil sampling locations. This soil information was combined with EMI data to produce nutrient specific predictive models, enabling producers to adjust nutrient distribution and improve overall performance and sustainability. This information was used to develop many VTS demonstration sites across the northern plain states. Refinement of the application of EMI to monitor nutrient distribution may continue.

Common emission measures provide estimates over large areas; however, they cannot provide insight at the pen surface or provide a measure of mitigation management practices. Techniques were developed incorporating subsurface measures combined with strategically located calibration samples to identify zones of manure accumulation. This technique provided detailed information on contaminant concentrations and distribution on the pen surface. Also, maps and statistical benchmarks were established for evaluating management practices. This information allowed the development of precision management practices that mitigate emissions and protect the environment. Additionally, preliminary data indicated the ability to identify zones that could be harvested for energy recovery, improving the value up to eight times the nutrient value as when harvested as a soil amendment. This technique has become a valuable tool for studies investigating gas emissions from pen surfaces and is being developed to measure the energy content of manure. Both of these projects will continue during the next project period. The prevalence of both Escherichia coli O157 and Campylobacter spp through a VTS was examined. Pathogens have been recovered from soils, basin sludge, and basin water. Without additional inputs from the basin, isolation frequencies of E. coli O157 and Campylobacter spp. from VTS soils decreased over time. Isolation of generic E. coli from fresh-cut hay from regions of the VTS that received runoff indicates some contamination risk. E. coli O157 was isolated from only one of 30 treatment samples prior to baling. Pathogens were recovered from hay following baling. This project will continue during the next project.

1. Predicting Volatile Fatty Acid and Source Area Differences Due to Diet from a Feedlot Pen Using Electromagnetic Induction Technology. ARS scientists at U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE, determined that sub-surface sensor data could be used to predict volatile fatty acids (VFA) production differences between a corn-based or a wet distillers grain with solubles (WDGS) diet on the feedlot surface following a rain event. They found no differences in manure accumulation between the two diets. The manure from the cattle fed a corn-based diet produced more straight-chained and total VFA, whereas, pens with cattle fed the WDGS diet (containing a higher protein content) produced more branched-chained VFA. Many of these branch-chained VFAs have more offensive odors than straight-chained VFAs. Understanding accumulation patterns and the ability to predict odorant production can be used to develop precision management practices to mitigate odor emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations.

Review Publications
Woodbury, B.L., Lesch, S.M., Eigenberg, R.A., Miller, D.N., Spiehs, M.J. 2009. Electromagnetic Induction Sensor Data to Identify Areas of Manure Accumulation on a Feedlot Surface. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 73(6):2068-2077.

Gilley, J.E., Berry, E.D., Eigenberg, R.A., Marx, D.B., Woodbury, B.L. 2009. Nutrient and Bacterial Transport in Runoff from Soil and Pond Ash Amended Feedlot Surfaces. Transactions of the ASABE. 52(6):2077-2085.

Berry, E.D., Wells, J., Arthur, T.M., Woodbury, B.L., Nienaber, J.A., Brown Brandl, T.M., Eigenberg, R.A. 2010. Soil Versus Pond Ash Surfacing of Feedlot Pens: Occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Cattle and Persistence in Manure. Journal of Food Protection. 73(7):1269-1277.

Gilley, J.E., Berry, E.D., Eigenberg, R.A., Marx, D.B., Woodbury, B.L. 2010. Nutrient Transport in Runoff from Feedlots as Affected by Wet Distiller's Grain Diet. Transactions of the ASABE. 53(2):545-552.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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