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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Whey utilization in furrow irrigation: Effects on aggregate stability and erosion

Authors
item Lehrsch, Gary
item Robbins, Charles - USDA-ARS (RETIRED)
item Brown, Melvin - USDA-ARS (RETIRED)

Submitted to: Bioresource Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 19, 2008
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Citation: Lehrsch, G.A., Robbins, C.W., Brown, M.J. 2008. Whey utilization in furrow irrigation: Effects on aggregate stability and erosion. Bioresource Technology. 99(17):8458-8463.

Interpretive Summary: Farmers can reduce furrow erosion and maintain adequate infiltration and aeration by improving soil structure on eroded or degraded farm land. One way to quantify soil structure is by measuring the stability of soil aggregates, which are small, naturally occurring clusters of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. In this study, we determined whether cottage cheese whey, also termed acid whey, the liquid byproduct that remains after butterfat and most milk proteins have been removed from milk during cottage cheese manufacture, could be used to stabilize aggregates along irrigation furrows in a soil that contained appreciable amounts of lime but not sodium. We applied either 2.4 or 1.9 liters of whey per meter of furrow by gravity flow without subsequent tillage to two fields of Portneuf silt loam near Kimberly, ID. The fields were furrow-irrigated with water about 2 weeks after whey was applied. About 10 days later, we sampled soil from the furrow bottom and sidewalls that had been wetted by flowing water and measured aggregate stability by wet sieving field-moist aggregates. On one field, surface aggregate stability increased from 64% in untreated furrows to 83% in whey-treated furrows. When data from both fields were averaged, whey increased aggregate stability 25% at the 0-15 mm depth and 14% at the 15-30 mm depth, compared to untreated soil. Whey increases the aggregate stability of structurally degraded soil in irrigation furrows untilled after receiving whey.

Technical Abstract: Improving soil structure on eroded or degraded farm land often reduces furrow erosion and maintains adequate infiltration and aeration. Cottage cheese whey, also termed acid whey, the liquid byproduct that remains after butterfat and most milk proteins have been removed from milk during cottage cheese manufacture, was used to stabilize soil aggregates along irrigation-furrow wetted perimeters. We applied either 2.4 or 1.9 liters of whey per meter of furrow (3.15 or 2.49 L/m squared, respectively) by gravity flow without incorporation to two fields of Portneuf silt loam (Durixerollic Calciorthid) near Kimberly, ID. The fields were furrow-irrigated with water about 2 weeks after whey was applied. About 10 days later, we sampled soil from furrow wetted perimeters and measured aggregate stability by wet sieving field-moist aggregates. On one field, surface aggregate stability increased significantly from 64% in control furrows to 83% in whey-treated furrows. When data from both fields were averaged, whey increased aggregate stability 25% at the 0-15 mm depth and 14% at 15-30 mm, compared to controls. Whey increases the aggregate stability of structurally degraded calcareous soil in irrigation furrows untilled after receiving whey.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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