Treatment of Agricultural Runoff Using Filter Strip

2009 Annual Report for GNC08-095

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Steve Safferman
Michigan State University

Treatment of Agricultural Runoff Using Filter Strip


This project aims to evaluate the water quality of wastewater produced on animal farmsteads and application to vegetated treatment strips for analysis of surface and subsurface water quality. Three vegetated filter strips have been designed for implementation and data collection has begun on two of the three locations. It is the goal of this study to achieve a minimum of 5 sampling events from each filter strip for analysis of performance to evaluate design, maintenance, and operation of vegetated filter strips.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Determine the pollutant removal of agricultural filter strips in typical environmental and farmstead conditions. Specific objectives include the following:
• Assess the surface and subsurface water quality at two field sites.
• Assess current practice standards in regards to operation and maintenance procedures.
• Determine if agricultural filter strips are an effective agricultural treatment/management option as designed, with a particular emphasis on metal leaching into groundwater.
• Determine treatment consistency throughout season and rainfall events.


Three vegetated filter strips have been designed with farmstead input, and installed on 2 sites. At the Michigan State University Dairy Teaching and Research Facility (160 head), two 400 ft long filter strips have been installed to treat wastewater produced from feed, and secondly manure. The third 110 ft long filter strip was installed at a small MI dairy (40 head) to handle runoff from all farmstead operations. Each filter strip was designed in accordance to the MI NRCS 635 standard. Surface and subsurface sampling devices have also been installed for sample collection. Data collection has begun for two of the three filter strips for a number of different rainfall events. Sample collection and analysis will continue over the next year to assess the objectives listed above.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Current impacts include a reduction in environmental impact of the two farmstead sites which were previously discharging untreated runoff. We have so far realized a reduction in surface water impact as all storms within the 25-yr, 24-hr storm have resulted in zero discharge to surface water. Continued collection of samples and analysis will provide the necessary data to evaluate the impacts to groundwater, outline operational and design standards, and evaluate various environmental conditions.


Dr. Steve Safferman
Associate Professor
Michigan State University
212 Farrall Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824