Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Disposal of dairy cow waste slurries on Amity silty clay loam soil

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  • Intensification of livestock operations has enhanced the problem of animal waste disposal. Since high application rates of the waste to soils would help elevate the problem, a study was established to determine water quality as affected by applications of dairy waste slurries to tiled and untiled soils. Dairy cow waste slurries were applied to tiled and untiled Amity sicl soil at rates of 0, 400 and 1000 gallons per plot or 0, 3.0 and 8.0 acre-inches per acre. The waste was applied during the winter, summer and fall of 1971. In a subsidiary study several acre inches of dairy waste slurry were applied to an agricultural tiled field of Amity silty clay loam (sicl) soil during the winter of 1972. Dairy cow waste slurries, tile drain effluents and groundwater were assayed for total solids, total-N, total P, NH₄-N and NO₃-N content. Water samples were collected prior and subsequent to waste application. During the winter application period the NH₄-N concentration in both groundwater and tile effluent was < 50 ppm and with time decreased to <10 ppm. The NH₄ -N concentration in the applied waste slurry averaged 100 ppm. The NH₄-N concentration in tile effluent and groundwater from control plots was <1 ppm. The total -N concentration in the tile effluent and groundwater were approximately twice the assayed NH₄-N concentration. During the summer application period, the NH₄-N concentration in tile effluent and groundwater was higher than in the winter months after the waste slurry application. The Amity sicl soil cracked severely during the summer months and allowed some preferential flow of the waste directly to the tile drains or groundwater sample tubes. The NO₃-N concentration in the effluent and groundwater increased from <1 ppm in the winter to 9 ppm in the summer due to the increased microbiological activity. The total P fixed by the undrained Amity soil decreased from 90% during the January application to 40% during the May 1971 application. The total P fixation by the undrained Amity sicl soil was 50 to 90% for both the sodded and desodded plots during the summer application period. The total P fixed by the tile drained Amity sicl decreased from 80% in January to 40% in February and remained constant for the duration of the winter application period. The percent total P fixation for both the medium and high application rates was similar, The total P fixed by tile drained Amity sicl soil during the summer waste applications was similar to the low percent total P fixation of the winter application period. The low percent total P fixation resulted largely from minimal soil-waste contact time due to cracks in the undisturbed soil, channel formation in the tile trench backfill and the high hydraulic conductivity of the Amity sicl soil. The fall, 1971 waste applications' included soil moisture criteria to determine waste application frequency. The use of soil moisture criteria for waste applications did not improve water quality; but, water quality was improved when the surface soil became sealed to thus reduce the water percolation rate and extend the soil-waste contact time. Nitrogen and P accumulated in the surface 12 inches of the Amity soil; however, the accumulations were lower than would be expected from the large elemental applications. Only 260 pounds of total-N per acre accumulated in the surface 12 inches of the Amity soil after receiving over 4400 pounds of total-N. Considerable NH₃ was probably lost at the time the waste slurries were applied. Besides NH₃ volatization, NO₃-N leaching, gaseous losses of N₂ or nitrogen oxides and the waste slurries rapid percolation through the soil contributed to the low total-N accumulation. The total-N, total P and NH₄-N level in the subsoil, 22 to 28 inch depth, remained relatively constant. The NO₃-N concentration in the 0 to 12 inch layer of tile drained Amity soil increased from <1 ppm during the winter to 35 ppm in the summer and then decreased to <10 ppm in the fall. The NO₃-N concentration in the undrained Amity soil was 5 to 10 ppm greater than in the tile drained plots. Approximately 80% of the applied total-P was fixed in the 0 to 12 inch layer of the Amity sicl soil. The percent total-P fixed by the soil very likely would be higher if P accumulations in the entire soil profile had been considered. When the waste slurries were applied to the agricultural tiled soil, the soil removed 95 to 99% of the N and P. The total-N concentration in the ground water was < 10 ppm. The NH₄-N, NO₃-N and total P concentrations in the groundwater were generally < 2 ppm. Although very little difference in water quality occurred between sodded and desodded plots in this research project, sodded application areas would increase retention and infiltration of waste slurries on steep slopes. A. recommended application rate to agricultural tiled soils would be one to two acre-inches of <2% total solids waste slurry applied every three to four weeks. This application rate would prevent formation of a manure thatch and would reduce surface runoff problems. A possible crop rotation program of corn, barley and pasture could be used. Corn and grasses are high utilizers of N. Corn utilizes approximately 400 pounds of N per acre. The net accumulation of total-N, before the crop is planted, ideally should not exceed 400 pounds of N per acre. The application of waste slurries during the summer to soils that have a moderate to high content of shrink-swell clays is not suggested because of rapid waste percolation through the soil cracks into groundwater with minimal soil-waste contact.
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