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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Operational Evaluation of a Passive Beef Cattle Feedlot Runoff Control and Treatment System

Authors
item Woodbury, Bryan
item Nienaber, John
item Eigenberg, Roger

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2002
Publication Date: December 20, 2002
Citation: WOODBURY, B.L., NIENABER, J.A., EIGENBERG, R.A. OPERATIONAL EVALUATION OF A PASSIVE BEEF CATTLE FEEDLOT RUNOFF CONTROL AND TREATMENT SYSTEM. APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE. 2002.

Interpretive Summary: Precipitation runoff from beef cattle feedlots is typically captured and stored in large volume ponds. These ponds are relatively expensive and may leak over time. The objectives of this study were to design, build and evaluate a system to eliminate long-term storage ponds. A small volume basin was constructed to remove solids by settling. The liquid runoff continued through the basin to a grass hay field where nutrients were used for plant growth. The grass hay field was sized on the basis of values from a computer model. No runoff from the grass hay field was detected during a 3-year period. The water stored in the settling basin was minimal and limited the potential for groundwater contamination. The passive beef cattle feedlot runoff treatment system appears to be an improvement over traditional storage systems.

Technical Abstract: Nutrients from feedlot runoff can infiltrate beneath long-term storage ponds. Pond embankmentsÂż wetting and drying cycles facilitate infiltration paths as do weed growth that form root channels. The research objectives were to construct and evaluate a passive runoff water treatment system that reduced or eliminated long-term storage. Runoff volumes, nutrient totals, and peak discharge were estimated using the Nutrient Fate Model for Beef Cattle Feedlots (Eigenberg et al., 1995). A vegetative filter strip was sized based on these estimated values. A flat-bottom terrace was constructed to collect runoff, provide temporary liquid storage, and accumulate settable solids, while distributing the nutrient laden liquid fraction uniformly across a vegetative filter strip. No runoff from the vegetative filter strip was recorded during the study period which lasted from 1999 through 2001, indicating that the basin discharge was effectively utilized for grass production. The volume of water remaining in the basin which was available for deep infiltration was greatly reduced when compared to traditional long-term runoff storage systems. This was evident as the solids storage system began to accumulate solids, thereby reducing the total liquid storage volume of the basin. The passive beef cattle feedlot runoff treatment system appeared to be an improvement to traditional storage systems.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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