Automating Management for a Vegetative Treatment System (VTS)


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For more: Vegetative Treatment Systems (VTS) are an alternative to runoff retention ponds for open lot feedlots. A proof of concept was developed to investigate the feasibility and reliability of incorporating soil moisture sensors, sediment basin level, and precipitation into a human machine interface (HMI) with data tracking and simple message system (SMS) alerts for the owner of a Sprinkler VTS.

To operate effectively VTS systems the collected runoff from the feedlot must be managed soon after a runoff event has occurred, so that the system is able to accommodate the next event. Creating a feedback loop to the producer about the soil moisture balance in the vegetative treatment area and the storage capacity of the sediment basin provides the producer with information about the status of the system and help determine when the best time to apply the runoff to the VTA. Additionally, there is concern by regulators about the potential for deep percolation from VTA’s.

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  • This vegetative treatment system consists of the existing and new pens, 3 sediment basins, pumping station, and a talking vegetative treatment area. Water collected in the sediment basins will be removed using the single phase powered pump and spread over the VTA using the K-line sprinkler system consisting of 4 lines with 10 pods per line. After each runoff event, the producer can engage the pump, which will apply runoff water from the feedlot onto the VTA until the basin is empty.
  • This picture shows the layout of the entire vegetative treatment system on the Andreasen property. In this case, three sediment basins are used to collect runoff from the feedlot, which allows for removal of solids. The liquids from the two smaller basins are released into the largest basin and from there are pumped onto the vegetative treatment area, or VTA, by pumping to the 40 pod K-line sprinkler system. The red lines show the flow of the runoff water.
  • Automating Management for a Vegetative Treatment System (VTS)

    1. 1. Jason GrossEngineering TechnicianUniversity of Nebraska ExtensionAutomating Management for aVegetative Treatment System
    2. 2. • Develop and demonstrate new alternative practicesfor un-regulated livestock producers though a smallcost share program• Design and build projects on small and mediumlivestock operations under real world conditions.• Educate Producers and Consultants about usingVTSLIVESTOCK PRODUCERS ENVIRONMENTALASSISTANCE PROJECTNebraska Environmental Trust FundNDEQ (EPA) 319 Non-Point Pollution Program Grant
    3. 3. Sprinkler Vegetative Treatment Systems(VTS) Advantages• They are flexible systems that can be economicallydesigned to match desired application rates and soilinfiltration rates• Feeding area is down gradient of the possible VTAlocation• Soil intake rate is too high for a flood application system(sandy / loess soils) or too low (very tight clay soils)• Topography challenges (rolling hills or short slopes)• Sensitive water table, low AWC of the soil, and manyother reasons• Uniform application may be a critical design constraint• Limited space available.
    4. 4. Why Electric Controls and Sensors?• Proof of concept• Provide producer with feedback andinformation to make informed decisions sothat they can prevent or minimize deeppercolation risks.• For sensitive geologies or where there isconcern about groundwater impact.• Automated recordkeeping• System 1 – Washington County SprinklerVTS• System 2 – Nuckolls County Sprinkler VTS
    5. 5. System 1 - Washington County VTS• Feedlot• 4.3 acres of yard space• 580 head capacity• VTA• 8.8 acres of VTA with additional cropland surrounding• single phase pump system with self priming centrifugalpump• 3 sediment basins that drain to pump station• VTA constructed northeast of feedlot with a terracedeterring rain runoff from VTA• 80 pod K-line system on 4 risers• Variable Frequency Drive electric motor drive for an 80series Gorman Rupp self priming pump (10 hp @ 440 gpm)
    6. 6. Feedlot LayoutBasin 1Basin 2Basin 3VTAPipelinePump StationAbandon Pen
    7. 7. Established Grass on VTA
    8. 8. K-Lines Applying Runoff Water
    9. 9. Pump, Motor, and Filter
    10. 10. Sensors and Controls for Human MachineInterface (HMI) with Simple MessageSystem (SMS)• WatermarkTM 200SS-V soil moisturesensors at 4 locations at depths of 1 footand 5 foot.• 2 SJ Rhombus water level indicators.• Davis Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge.• Touch screen PC based computer.• Wireless connection to HQ internet.• Variable Frequency Drive from Powercom
    11. 11. The Sprinkler “Talking VTS”Underground Sensors inVTA are wired to a HMIat Pump StationHMI uses SMS toAlert Producer ofpump, basin, andVTA conditionsHMIFloat sensorSoil moisture
    12. 12. WatermarkTM 200SS-V
    13. 13. The Sprinkler“Talking VTS”Sensor installation1 ft and 4-5 ft
    14. 14. VariableFrequencyDriveControlPanel
    15. 15. Touch Screen HMI
    16. 16. System 2 – Nuckolls County VTS• 250 head cow / calf with farm• 250 head feedlot• Feedlot 1.5 acres• VTA 3.0 ac with 24 K-Line Pods• Single phase electric motor with Berkley Bseries end suction pump on a skid.• WatermarkTM 900M Data Collector with200SS sensors• Sensors are at 1,3, and 5 foot depths in theVTA and a pasture.
    17. 17. System 2 – NuckollsSprinkler VTS
    18. 18. Pump with Dry Hydrant Suction Inlet
    19. 19. Pump, Motor, and Filter
    20. 20. WatermarkTM 900M Data Collector
    21. 21. 3.2” 1.05” 0.62”
    22. 22. What Did We Find Out?• The 2012 drought didn’t help. Did not receive muchdata without the rainfall.• We believe that the HMI unit at the Washington COVTS can be useful for record keeping and operationin a 30” rainfall area but not for drier climates inwestern Nebraksa.• HMI - $4,500 for hardware and software development• 900M – Less than $1,000• The Nuckolls County lower cost sensors worked wellbut with only instant read screen, there is not muchinformation to make management decisions withextensive study.
    23. 23. ComingSoonQuestions?Jason Gross(308)