«University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee of Experts on Dairy Manure Management September 2003 February 2004, ...»
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Dairy wastewater typically is loaded with nutrients (i.e. N, P, and K) and is high in salinity.
Since 1999, Marsha Campbell-Mathews, Thomas Harter, and Roland D. Meyer have been conducting field experiments in which they applied blended dairy wastewater for forage productions in the San Joaquin Valley, employing double cropping of summer silage corn and winter wheatgrass. During the course of this investigation, they accumulated considerable amounts of data on the chemical composition of wastewater stored in the dairy wastewater lagoons and they monitored the chemical properties of groundwater underneath the application sites. We chose three examples to illustrate the range and the typical compositions of dairy wastewater and the salt balances of fields receiving dairy wastewater applications (Table J-1).
Typical chemical compositions of the irrigation water sources used for blending at the east and west sides of the San Joaquin Valley are summarized as follows, based on information provided
by Blake Sanden (Farm Advisor, UCCE Kern County):
The water applications satisfied the irrigation requirements and delivered adequate amounts of nutrients for the growing crops. The blending ratios for the dairy wastewater and irrigation water were typically 1 to 10 to 1 to 20 depending on the N contents of the wastewater. In addition to the commonly expected dissolved mineral ions (i.e., Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, SO42-, Cl-, and HCO3-), the dairy wastewaters frequently are high in HN4+ ion and in organic acid anions. Upon land applications, the NH4+ cation will be absorbed directly by plants or be oxidized to nitrate and then absorbed. The organic acid anions were not separately analyzed. Under routine water quality chemical analysis protocols, their presence is reflected by alkalinity of the water. The organic acid anions typically will be oxidized to form components of bicarbonate (CH3COO- + CO2 + H2O + HCO3-). The carbonate-bicarbonate species in the soil solution in turn are 2O2 in equilibrium with CO2 in the soil atmosphere. For salt balance and salinity assessment, these two components of the dissolved substances in dairy wastewater do not affect the final outcomes and may not need to be considered.
According to Campbell-Mathews, the annual double cropping of summer corn and winter wheat grass requires 250 and 150 lbs ac-1 (280 and 168 kg ha-1) of nitrogen inputs, respectively;
receives on the average 12 inches (30.5 cm) of precipitation, 10 inches (25.4 cm) of winter irrigation, and 36 inches (91.4 cm) of summer irrigation; and has leaching fractions between 0.28 and 0.31 (Campbell-Mathews et al., undated). Typically, the K uptake by a 30-tons-per- acre silage corn crop would reach 250 lbs K2O ac-1 (280 kg ha-1). When K is available, the luxury uptake by plants might consume an additional 100 lbs K2O acre-1 (112 kg ha-1). CampbellMathews et al. (Undated) reported that over 75% of lagoon water samples contained more K than A-1 plants might consume. Using the dairy wastewater lagoon at Redbun Dairy as an example, we estimated the salt leaching when the dairy wastewater was blended with irrigation water sources from the east and west sides of the San Joaquin Valley (Tables J-2 to J-5) in double cropping of summer corn and winter forage. In the computations, we assumed the total annual plant K uptake to be 500 kg K2O ha-1. This amount, along with corresponding anions in bicarbonate form, was deducted from the salt inputs prior to using WATSUIT (Oster and Rhoades, 1990; Rhoades et al., 1992). It was then compared with the salinity changes caused by using east and west side irrigation water sources alone (Tables J-6 to J-9). The TDS and the ionic compositions of the drainage water were compared with the chemical characteristics of groundwater samples collected at the Redbun dairy wastewater application site (Table J-10). Relatively, the K+ content of the groundwater was significantly lower than that in the projected drainage water, and the Ca2+ and Mg2+ contents of the groundwater were significantly higher than those in the projected
drainage water. Potassium ions are known to be specific-adsorbed in mineral lattices of the 2:1
layer silicate clay minerals such as micas (Fanning and Keramidas, 1977). Many soils in San Joaquin Valley exhibited K adsorption characteristics. It appeared that the K in the drainage water was specifically adsorbed by the mica clay minerals and substituted by Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions. If the K ion concentrations of the drainage water in Tables J-2 – J-5 are adjusted for the K+ adsorption by clay minerals and replaced by Ca2+ ion, the resulting chemical compositions resemble those of the groundwater as shown in Table J-10.
The plant K uptake adjusted annual salt loading for the four scenarios is summarized in Table JThe use of dairy wastewater could increase the annual salt loading by 3000 to 3500 kg ha-1.
Lime precipitation does not appear to play a significant role in reducing the salt loads to ground water. The groundwater underneath the dairy wastewater application fields will also experience significant increases in hardness and alkalinity.
Table J-2: K uptake adjusted salinity of applied and drainage water of winter forage irrigation, wastewater from Redbun blended with east side water sources
Table J-3: K uptake adjusted salinity of applied and drainage water of summer corn irrigation, wastewater from Redbun blended with east side water sources
Table J-5: K uptake adjusted salinity of applied and drainage water of summer corn irrigation, wastewater from Redbun blended with west side water sources