USDA researchers and EPA have teamed up with the goal of finding a way for producers to avoid the cost of storing manure over winter, while keeping environmental impacts at a minimum.

This winter, scientists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) North Appalachian Experimental Watershed Unit (NAEW) at Coshocton, Ohio, applied various animal manures to check water quality effects. They want to know whether leaving land near the edges of fields manure-free will ensure that winter manure applications are environmentally sound.

U.S. EPA is collaborating in these studies, as part of its efforts to partner with agricultural scientists for the benefit of farmers and the environment. EPA is concerned about water pollution from manure runoff over frozen soil.

The researchers applied liquid swine manure and turkey litter manure to cornfields on four small watersheds, and applied beef cattle manure slurry to four grass plots. Surface runoff is collected to be analyzed for quality and to determine volume. Runoff volumes are measured at the watersheds using flumes. ARS scientists analyze water for nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as for oxygen depletion.

NAEW researchers have been testing runoff for many years. Samples are sent to the EPA Research and Development Office in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they are tested for E. coli and enterococci pathogens. Enterocci bacteria have replaced fecal coliform bacteria as indicators of the likely presence of other pathogens in water that can also infect people.

To learn more about this on-going project, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region5/agriculture/spotlight.htm

EPA