Water quality impacts of free ranging cattle in semi-arid environments Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rv042x52q

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  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects that free ranging cattle have on water quality in semi-arid environments. There were three specific objectives: 1) To determine the concentration and distribution of cattle feces in meadows, riparian zones, and the associated uplands. 2) To determine the fecal deposition rate of free ranging cattle directly into a stream. 3) To determine if feces near a stream, up to 2.3 meters away, are a source of pollution during rainfall and subsequent surface runoff. As the distance from water and slope increased cow-chip concentrations decreased. The highest concentration of cow-chips was found in the meadows where winter supplemental feeding occurred. The second highest concentration of cow-chips was found in the riparian zones. Areas that had steep slopes and were a long distance from water had the lowest concentration of cowchips. The amount of time the cattle spent in the stream and the fecal deposition rate changed by season. The cattle spent the most time in the stream during the summer, and the least amount of time during the fall. The direct fecal deposits were highest for summer and approximately the same for the other seasons. In the experiment designed to evaluate the effectiveness of buffer strips, feces were placed varying distances from the edge of simulated rainfall plots and subjected to different levels of precipitation. A significant reduction in conform concentrations was noted between the bacteria which traveled 0.7 meters through a buffer strip, as compared to those which did not have any distance to travel. Bacteria concentrations at the 0.0 meter distance averaged 42,800 coliforms/ml, whereas there were only about 2,250 bacteria/ml delivered from the feces deposited 0.7 meters away. No statistical differences were found between buffer strip widths of 0.7 meters and 2.3 meters. Buffer strip effectiveness for widths greater than 2.3 meters were not investigated and thus remain a subject for further investigation.
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