A research institute of the OVPR
 
  
Geological Research at the IGS

Evaluation of contaminant storage and movement at a confined feeding operation

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed May 1, 2003 Dec 14, 2006 Daviess
Director: Greg Olyphant
Other Researchers: Sally Letsinger
Funding: Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)
Issue: Several confined feeding operations (CFOs) are being operated in the sandy hydrogeologic settings of southwestern Indiana. Although efforts are made to minimize effects on ground and surface water, there is no certainty that current best management practices are effective in every hydrogeologic setting. Groundwater in this area of highly permeable soils and a shallow water table is very sensitive to contamination, and warrants a thorough investigation.
Objective: Data from similar studies indicate that nitrate concentrations are often high; we believe this occurs because rainfall early and late in the growing season flush commercial fertilizers and animal waste before they can be used to promote plant growth. Through our monitoring program, we tracked effects that manure-application practices had on groundwater quality in the area. This assisted personnel of the IDEM Office of Land Quality to identify problem situations that may require modification of current rules and management practices.
Approach: Install water sampling devices to monitor three sites: two on fields that receive animal waste applications and a control site that does not receive animal waste applications. We recorded storage and movement of groundwater and solutes, rates of contaminant-loading of the shallow aquifer, and seepage and surface flow into adjacent ditches and streams. Waste- and commercial fertilizer-application rates supplied by the operators were compared along with weather conditions, antecedent soil moisture levels, and season, to changes in the contaminant-loading of the unsaturated and saturated zones.
Products: The results yielded a reasonable estimate of the rate and timing of nitrate migration through a shallow unsaturated zone in the study area. It may be necessary to time the application of animal waste to coincide with particular seasons because weather conditions and plant uptake can assist or hinder the movement of effluent.
Benefits: The results of the study tested the validity of the November 2001 Indiana Confined Feeding Regulation Guidance Manual, particularly the regulation that establishes the acreage required for manure application. The study results allowed Indiana Department of Environmental Management the opportunity to calibrate application-rate guidance in this rather sensitive hydrogeologic setting.
Publications:

An evaluation of the storage and movement of potential contaminants in soils at a confined feeding operation where manure is applied to highly permeable sands
Olyphant, G.A. and Letsinger, S.L., 2009, An evaluation of the storage and movement of potential contaminants in soils at a confined feeding operation where manure is applied to highly permeable sands: Indiana Geological Survey Open File Study 09-01, 27 p.

Nitrogen loading of shallow groundwater aquifers in varying soil and topographic settings of southwestern Indiana
Reeder, M.D., Olyphant, G.A., Letsinger, S.L., 2006, Nitrogen loading of shallow groundwater aquifers in varying soil and topographic settings of southwestern Indiana. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 38, no. 7, p. 39.


 
 
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