Using Total Solids Concentration to Estimate Nutrient Content of Feedlot Runoff Effluent from Solid Settling Basins, Vegetative Infiltration Basins, and Vegetative Treatment Areas

Helmers, Matthew
Andersen, Daniel
Burns, Robert
Moody, Lara
Andersen, Daniel
Helmers, Matthew
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Increased environmental awareness has promoted the need for improved feedlot runoff control. The use of vegetative treatment systems (VTSs) to control and treat feedlot runoff may enhance environmental security and protect water quality. Knowledge of effluent nutrient concentrations throughout the vegetative treatment system is required to evaluate system performance and impact on water quality. Previously collected VTS monitoring data has provided the opportunity to investigate relationships between effluent quality parameters. The objective of this study was to evaluate, through correlation and regression, the relationships between total solids, nutrients, and effluent quality indicator concentrations of feedlot runoff at various stages of treatment in a VTS, including solid settling basin, vegetative infiltration basin, and vegetative treatment area effluent. Results of a correlation and primary factor analysis showed that most of the effluent concentrations were strongly correlated to each other, with a single factor capable of describing more than 60% of the total variability of the monitored parameters. Regression equations were developed to relate nutrient content and effluent quality indicator concentrations to total solids concentrations. Results were satisfactory for NH3-N, BOD5, COD, Cl-, TP, and TKN, indicating that total solids concentrations provided significant insight into VTS performance relative to nutrient concentration and effluent quality indicators. A comparison between predicted, based on total solids content, and monitored annual mass release of the parameters was conducted. No statistical difference was found for NH3-N, BOD5, COD, Cl-, TP, and TKN; indicating that effluent volume release along with total solids concentrations could be used to provide an estimate of nutrient mass in solid settling basin, vegetative infiltration basin, and vegetative treatment area effluent.


This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture 27, no. 5 (2011): 813–820.