In livestock producing areas, animal manure is often applied to cropland to enhance soil fertility. Guidelines have been developed for manure application on fields underlain by subsurface (tile) drainage systems. Some of these guidelines, such as avoiding manure application if rain is predicted and not applying manure over a flowing tile, though effective, involve some level of risk. We believe that the level of risk can be reduced by filtering contaminants from the water leaving the drains. The control structures recommended for use with drainage systems underlying fields to which manure is applied, provide ready-made receptacles for filters. In this report we discuss the development and testing of a filter to remove contaminants from lagoon effluent.
The purpose of this project is to develop an economically feasible solution to capturing sediment bound nutrient loss from agricultural land as well as prevent herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, fertilizers and other contaminants from polluting the receiving waters of tile drained systems. In the event of a spill, these filters will presumably act as a barrier to capture pollutants in an attempt to prevent environmental degradation as well as fines to farmers.
We developed an activated carbon filter and tested it in our lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in a controlled field setting in order to test the filters ability to meet physical parameters like allowing average tile flow rates through without backup and the effectiveness of the filter in improving water quality.
We have learned that designing for agriculture is much more intensive than in a controlled setting and from that challenge, the project has helped us establish better research and development skills.
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We plan to continue with alternative filter prototypes and continue testing so we have a product that is scientifically proven and farmers will want to use.
Stephanie Herbstritt, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Annie Kwedar, Undergraduate, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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For more information on using filters in subsurface tile drained systems, go to the January-February 2013 edition of the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Of America’s newsletters which can be found at: http://www.illica.net/current%20newsletter.pdf
Dr. Richard Cooke, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Julie Honegger, Undergraduate, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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