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Keywords:

  • grazing;
  • runoff;
  • nutrients;
  • fecal coliform

ABSTRACT: Grazed pastures represent a potential source of non-point pollution. In comparison to other nonpoint sources (e.g., row-cropped lands), relatively little information exists regarding possible magnitudes of pollution from grazed pasture; how that pollution is affected by weather, soil, management and other variables; and how the pollution can be minimized. The objective of this study was to assess how the quality of runoff from fescue plots is influenced by duration of cattle manure application (4–12 weeks) and manure application strategy (none, weekly application of 1.4 kg/plot, and monthly application at 5.6 kg/plot). Additional analyses were performed to relate runoff quality to the timing of sample collection. The study was conducted at the University of Kentucky Maine Chance Agricultural Experiment Station north of Lexington. Plots (2.4 m wide by 6.1 m long) were constructed and established in Kentucky 31 fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) to represent pasture. Grazing was simulated by application of beef cattle manure to the plots. Runoff was generated by applying simulated rainfall approximately 4, S and 12 weeks following initiation of manure application. Runoff samples were collected and analyzed according to standard methods for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and fecal coliforms (FC). Runoff concentrations of N and P from manure-treated plots were low and generally not consistently different from control plot concentrations or related to manure application strategy. Runoff FC concentrations from manure-treated plots were higher than from control plot concentrations. Runoff concentrations of ammonia N, total Kjeldahl N, ortho-P and FC decreased approximately exponentially in response to increasing time of sample collection. These findings suggest that manure deposition on well-managed pasture at the rates used in this study might have a negligible impact on nutrient content of runoff.