Wintering beef cattle on woodchip pads with subsurface drainage: hydrologic design and effluent characteristics

Authors: Faulkner, J, J Miller, T Basden
Description: Benefits to beef cattle welfare and pasture condition from wintering animals on woodchip pads have been reported in a number of countries, but no known installations have occurred in the United States. Furthermore, increasing environmental concern and regulatory scrutiny of winter feeding areas in pasture-based systems demand improved management of runoff. While some pollutant reduction occurs during percolation through a woodchip pad, low-cost control of effluent from such systems remains a challenge. A pilot study was initiated to evaluate the economics and environmental impact of a woodchip pad as a winter herd management method for use in the Mid-Atlantic region. A dosed vegetative treatment system was installed to treat drainage effluent. Effluent volume was measured and nutrient concentrations were monitored during the winter stocking period and related to stocking density and climatic conditions. Woodchip pad and drainage system cost and design specifications are also reported with adjusted design recommendations. Results indicate what the pollution potential of these systems is and offer a baseline for continuing research of this relatively unexplored technology in the region and elsewhere.
Keywords: winter feeding heavy use area
Technical field: technical_fields_app7
Session name: Soil and water
Date: 2012
Identifier: CSBE12032

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