Infiltration mechanism controls nitrification and denitrification processes under dairy waste lagoon Academic Article uri icon


  • Earthen waste lagoons are commonly used to store liquid wastes from concentrated animal feeding operations. The fate of ammonium (NH 4+) and nitrate (NO 3-) was studied in the vadose zone below earthen-clay dairy farm waste lagoons using three independent vadose zone monitoring systems. The vadose zone was monitored from 0.5 to 30 m below land surface through direct sampling of the sediment porewater and continuous measurement of the sediment profile's water content variations. Four years of monitoring revealed that wastewater infiltration from the lagoon is controlled by two mechanisms: slow (mm d− 1), constant infiltration from the lagoon bed; and rapid (mh− 1) infiltration of wastewater and rainwater via preferential flow in desiccation cracks formed in the unsaturated clay sediment surrounding the lagoon banks. The preferential flow mechanism is active mainly during …

publication date

  • January 1, 2012