Attenuation of runoff and chemical loads in grass filter strips at two cattle feedlots, Minnesota, 1995-98

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4036
By:  and 



Attenuation of cattle feedlot runoff in two grass-covered filter strips in Minnesota was estimated by measuring chemical loads into and out of the strips. Filter strips of the Bock and Sanborn sites were 60-m long and 20-m wide and received runoff from cattle feedlots that supported 35 and 225 cattle, respectively. Feedlot and filter-strip runoff were measured using flumes with stage sensors. Water samples were collected using automated samplers. Attenuation values were calculated from four storm-runoff events. Ground water sampled beneath and outside the filter strips indicated some infiltration losses of sulfate, chloride, and nitrogen at the Bock site where soil permeability was greater than at the Sanborn site. Chemical constituents in filter-strip runoff, and their corresponding ranges of attenuation were as follows: chemical oxygen demand, 30–81 percent; dissolved chloride, 6–79 percent; dissolved sulfate, -3–82 percent; dissolved ammonia nitrogen, 33–80 percent; suspended ammonia plus organic nitrogen, 29–85 percent; dissolved organic nitrogen, 14–75 percent; suspended phosphorus, 24–82 percent; dissolved phosphorus, 14–72 percent; and fecal coliform bacteria, 18–79 percent. The ranges seem to be affected by barriers of direct contact of the runoff water with the soil. This varies seasonally by coverage of the soil by ice in winter and vegetation in summer months. Greater attenuation values occurred in October and May when mats of wilted, flat-lying grass covered the filter strips; attenuation values were less during the summer when tall growing grass covered the filter strips.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Attenuation of runoff and chemical loads in grass filter strips at two cattle feedlots, Minnesota, 1995-98
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4036
DOI 10.3133/wri034036
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Mound View, MN
Contributing office(s) Minnesota Water Science Center
Description iv, 15 p.
Country United States
State Minnesota
City Bock, Sanborn
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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