Mixed grasses grown in treatment areas

By DELORES MEISTER
regional@norfolkdailynews.com

WEST POINT - University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension goals include finding ways to make environ­mental regulations compatible and affordable for family livestock farmers, ranchers and feeders.

This goal coincides with several Nebraska organizations that have partnered and funded the Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Department of Environmental Qual­ity Section 319 program. 

"The Clean Water Act is neces­sary and it is here to stay," said Chris Henry, a University of Nebraska-Lin­coln Extension engineer.  

"Environment protection is most beneficial to the people living here,” he said. 

"Uncontrolled feedlot runoff poisons the rivers, wildlife and makes people very un­happy. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can stop the runoff into the waters of the state."

           "Uncontrolled feedlot runoff poisons the rivers, wildlife and makes people very un­happy."

                                                                                                                                        CHRIS HENRY
                                                                                                                                        UNL EXTENSION ENGINEER

 Henry and Jason Gross, a UNL engineer technician, pioneered a project several years ago on how to operate a small feedlot using a vegetative treat­ment system as an alternative to a large lagoon.  

More recently, the pair devised the concept of adding sprinklers to the vegetative treatment system. 

Vegetative treatment systems have been in use for several years, employing such traditional methods as gravity-flow gated pipe, aluminum ir­rigation pipe or liquid manure spreaders. 

This new sprinkler system is a sim­pler, easier and more economical way to handle feedlot runoff.

 Managing a vegetative treatment system means that when it rains, the effluent drains into an earthen basin and is pumped out within 24 to 36 hours to a grassland vegetative treatment area.

 The treatment area must be planted to perennial vegetative plants, like warm- and cool-season mixed grass­es. Grasses take up the liquid run off and nutrients longer than corn, which can "drink up" nutrients only two months of the year. A weed cover is not adequate for the process.

 The rule of thumb is that the grassy plot be equal in size to the feedlot area. The grasses absorb the nutrients of the effluent in the top 6-10 inch root system.

Reprinted from Norfolk Daily News Saturday, September 5, 2009