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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Livestock Bio-Systems » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #373689

Research Project: Sustainable Management and Byproduct Utilization of Manure Nutrients and Environmental Contaminants from Beef and Swine Production Facilities

Location: Livestock Bio-Systems

Title: Development and performance assessment of an integrated vermifiltration based treatment system for the treatment of feedlot runoff

item SINGH, RAJNEESH - University Of Nebraska
item D’ALESSIO, MATTEO - University Of Mississippi
item MENESES, YULIE - University Of Nebraska
item BARTELT-HUNT, SHANNON - University Of Nebraska
item Woodbury, Bryan
item RAY, CHITTARANJAN - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Cleaner Production
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/16/2020
Publication Date: 1/1/2021
Publication URL:
Citation: Singh, R., D’Alessio, M., Meneses, Y., Bartelt-Hunt, S.L., Woodbury, B.L., Ray, C. 2021. Development and performance assessment of an integrated vermifiltration based treatment system for the treatment of feedlot runoff. Journal of Cleaner Production. 278:123355.

Interpretive Summary: A study was conducted to determine the ability of a constructed biofilter for treating runoff water coming from feedlots. These biofilters were constructed to test the impact of different combinations of biofilter materials for treating the runoff water. The filters were long and narrow with an inlet on one end and an outlet on the other. Baffles were installed on all three filters to direct the water flow path between a bottom layer of ash material from coal combustion and top layer of typical potting soil. One filter just had the ash material and potting soil. Another filter had earthworms added to the soil and the third filter had the soil, earthworms and plants. The filter with the earthworms and plants did the best job of cleaning the runoff water. All filters were subject to clogging at the inlet end of the filter due to biological growth using the concentrated nutrients in the runoff water. The filter with the plants and earthworms clogged the least due to the work of the plant roots and earthworms.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to treat feedlot runoff by developing an ecologically sustainable, affordable, and resilient treatment system having a relatively long life span. Three horizontal flow soil biofilters were utilized in this study: 1) without earthworms and plants (Biofilter (BF)), 2) with earth­worms only (Vermifilter (VF)), and 3) with earthworms and plants (Macrophyte Assisted Vermifilter (MAVF)). The experiments were conducted with a hydraulic retention time of four days using Lumbricus terestrris earthworms and Carex frankii wetland plants. The average COD removal from the BF, VF, and MAVF were 23.2-30.4%, 61.4-69.1%, and 68.3-78.1%, respectively. Average TN removal efficiencies for BF, VF, and MAVF were 15.5-21.4%, 34.4-38.8%, and 39.1-44.0%, respectively. Additionally, average TP removals for BF, VF, and MAVF were 31.9-40.8%, 48.0-54.0%, and 51.1-58.3%, respectively. Comparison of results with literature indicate that the developed system can facilitate more nitrogen removal. Plant roots. along with earthworms. create an aerobic ecosystem within the treatment filter, leading to high organics oxidation and nitrification efficiency among BF, VF, and MAVF. Observational analysis indicates the system with earthworms is prone to clogging while the system with earthworms and plants was less prone to clogging. Thus, it can be concluded that if modularized, the application of MAVF systems can treat feedlot runoffs with higher removal efficiency and expanded life span.