Beef feedlots of all sizes are looking for more cost-effective solutions for managing feedlot runoff. Vegetative treatment systems (VTSs) are one potential option that has been proposed. Iowa State University (ISU) has monitored the performance of six VTSs on open beef feedlots throughout Iowa since 2006. These feedlots have interim, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that allow the use of VTSs to control and treat feedlot runoff. As part of the permit requirements for these feedlots the effluent volumes, nutrient concentrations, and nutrient masses exiting each component of the VTS were monitored. This paper describes the VTSs and monitoring methods used in this study and evaluates the effectiveness, in terms of both effluent concentration and nutrient mass transport reductions, of each system. During the three-year monitoring period, results have shown that VTSs are capable of reducing the nutrient mass exiting the VTSs by 65 – 99% as compared to a settling basin only system, with performance varying by both site and year. In addition to overall mass transport reductions, nutrient concentrations were also reduced, typically reduced by 50-90%, during treatment. Furthermore, monitoring results have shown a consistent improvement in system performance during the three years of the study. Much of this improvement can be attributed to improved management techniques and system modifications that addressed key performance issues.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daniel_andersen/8/