Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The quality of the water in lakes and streams is related to land use in the surrounding area. The growth of algae and aquatic weeds increases with increased amounts of nutrients in the water. The source of these nutrients is difficult to identify as nutrients can come from soil disturbances like construction, waste treatment facilities (septic tanks and sewage treatment plants), fertilizers, and animal wastes. This study compares the quality of runoff water from soil treated with two types of animal wastes. Poultry litter and cattle feces and urine were applied to grass plots. An artificial rain maker was used to apply water equal to a rainstorm of 3 inches/hour. Runoff water from plots receiving poultry litter had significantly higher concentrations of most nutrients. These concentrations were much lower for a second artificial rainstorm two weeks after the first. These results indicate that poultry litter application to pastures has a greater impact on surface water quality than the grazing animal wastes.
Technical Abstract: In complex landscapes with multiple land uses, it is often difficult to identify the source of contaminant loadings to surface waters. The objective of this study was to compare nutrient runoff as affected by grazing animal depositions versus poultry litter application. Simulated rainfall was applied twice to 1.5 by 6.0 m runoff plots of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) with no waste additions (CT), dairy feces and urine (DFU), poultry litter (PL), and dairy feces and urine with poultry litter (DFU+PL). Chemical properties of the runoff samples including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), C, soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), total nitrogen (TN), NH4-N, NO3-N, K, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Na, and Zn were determined. Plots receiving poultry litter had significantly greater losses of most nutrient parameters for both rainfall simulations. For the nutrient parameters of primary interest with regard to water quality, 5.0, 29.5, and 21.9% of the TN, NH4-N, and SRP applied in the PL treatment were transported in runoff during the first simulation. By comparison, the percent losses of TN, NH4-N, and SRP from the DFU treatment were 3.9, 5.0, and 15.3%, respectively. Comparable percentages of the applied nutrients were lost from the PL and DFU treatments even though the PL treatment, with the exception of NH4-N, provided at least six times the amount of each nutrient tested. The data show that a severe rainfall event shortly after poultry litter application results in significantly greater nutrient losses as compared to grazing animal depositions.