Proceedings available at: http://www.extension.org/67602
Silage leachate is a high strength waste which contributes to surface and groundwater contamination of various pollutants from runoff, direct leaching through concrete storage structures, and infiltration of runoff. Feed storage is required for the majority of dairy operations in the country (which are expanding in size and fed storage requirements) leading to widespread potential contamination. Limited data on silage leachate quality and treatment has made management and regulation based solely on observation. This project investigated three bunker silage storage sites to assess the water quality characteristics of silage leachate and runoff from various feed sources and surrounding environmental factors. Surface samples were collected from feed storage structures and analyzed for numerous water quality parameters. Using collected hydrologic data, contaminant loading was analyzed for various storm events and assessed for first flush effects and potential to impact handling and treatment designs. Determination of first flush provides essential data for separation of waste streams (high and low strength) to ease management in terms of operation and cost, reduce loading to treatment systems, and reducing the overall environmental impact.