Higgs, Kori Denise (2015-02). Vegetated Treatment Area Effectiveness at Reducing Nutrient Runoff from Small Swine Operations in Central Texas. Master's Thesis.
There have been numerous studies, both modeling and field, related to the design and evaluation of vegetative treatment systems used to treat animal feeding operation runoff; however, none of these have studies evaluated the effectiveness of vegetative treatment areas (VTAs) receiving direct runoff from small swine operations (<100 animals) during natural rainfall events. Is it possible that a sufficiently sized VTA alone, with no solids pretreatment, can effectively treat direct runoff from small swine operations? This research aims to answer that question and evaluate the effectiveness of VTAs as a practical and cost-effective alternative wastewater management option to protect surface water quality on small swine facilities. Three locations in central Texas were established in 2012, and sampling sites were installed to monitor runoff water quantity and quality at the inlet and outlet of the VTA and a nearby control area not receiving swine effluent. Data show that the VTAs provided substantial treatment of the swine facility runoff in terms of reduced NO3-N, NH4-N, PO4-P, TN, and TP mean concentrations (24% - 91%) and total loads (50%-96%), but VTA runoff was still higher in nutrients than the control site. Further research of design elements and site management impacts on VTA performance is needed to develop guidelines for VTAs as a waste management option at small swine facilities.