Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2023
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2026
Grant Year
Project Director
Holly, M.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Agricultural runoff treatment systems (ARTS), consisting of sedimentation basins, could be an effective edge-of-field treatment to reduce nutrient pollution. ARTS previously demonstrated strong potential to treat total phosphorus (TP) and suspended sediment through sedimentation. Contrary to TP, dissolved P (DP) removal by ARTS was minimal and the long-term performance on ARTS remains to be evaluated. Reactive media incorporated in a phosphorus removal structure at the end of an ARTS and sedimentation basin biota could be used to remove DP. We propose to build the capacity to maintain and expand research and outreach on ARTS, through graduate assistantships and monitoring equipment, required for widespread adoption. We propose a large-scale comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to optimizing ARTS (including chemistry, engineering, biology, and ecology faculty). Specific objectives identified in the proposal include (1) analyze the particle size of agricultural runoff, (2) assessment of long-term ARTS performance, (3) design and evaluate novel reactive media, (4) investigate opportunities to recover nutrients from agricultural runoff while increasing on-farm revenue, (5) build capacity at UWGB to maintain and expand research on sustainable agriculture systems, and (6) develop outreach and extension material on ARTS. Our proposed research project will advance the science and understanding of ARTS and design novel nutrient recovery systems for the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Outreach material will inform stakeholders and regulators on ARTS and could increase producer incentives to include techniques to reduce agricultural runoff.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Specific objectives:Characterize the particle size of runoff suspended sediment from different agricultural watersheds.Assess long-term performance of agricultural runoff treatment systems to remove suspended sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen.Design and evaluate novel reactive media for removal of dissolved P and N through bench scale flow through testing and deployment at the field scale.Investigate opportunities to recover nutrients from agricultural runoff while increasing on-farm revenue through novel wastewater fed aquaculture and wetland crops.Build capacity at UWGB to maintain and expand research on sustainable agriculture systems through installation of autonomous water quality monitoring and graduate assistantships.Develop outreach and extension material on agricultural runoff treatment systems.
Project Methods
Obj 1: Particle size analysis is critical to the design of sedimentation basins for the treatment of agricultural runoff. Currently, limited information exists on the size of soil particles in runoff from agricultural fields. To determine the particle size of agricultural runoff from fields varying in soil type and cropping practices the PIs will utilize existing edge of field monitoring sites to sample water for particle size analysis. Discovery Farms Wisconsin is currently monitoring four edge of field sites in NE WI (Kewaunee and Langlade County), SW WI (Juneau County), and North Central WI (Marathon County) and will provide samples for particle size analysis. USGS is monitoring additional edge of field sites and will provide additional samples for analysis. Samples will be collected from a minimum of 4 sites representing the major soil regions of Wisconsin over the course of 3 rain events (including one event during spring, summer, and fall).Runoff flow-gaging stations equipped with data recorders are installed at each site (Figure 5) and the monitoring approach is documented in Stuntebeck et al. (2008). Agronomic practices and site conditions will be recorded from installed field camera and observation during sample collection. Particle size analysis of agricultural runoff will be measured through a sieve?pipette method (Guy, 1969) at UW-Platteville and UWGB.Obj. 2: ARTS influent surface runoff, tile drainage, effluent from the basin and reactive media will be monitored using a similar approach to the edge of field monitoring (Stuntebeck et al., 2008). Samples will be retrieved within 24 hours of a storm event, assigned a unique ID when collected from the refrigerated automated samplers and transported to the UWGB laboratory on ice. Samples will be split with a Dekaport cone splitter for SS, TP/TN and dissolved nutrient analyses. Samples for TDP and Nitrate-Nitrite will be filtered through a 0.45 um membrane. Total P and TDP samples will be preserved with H2SO4 and refrigerated until analyzed. Samples collected for annual and seasonal mass balance objectives will be analyzed at UWGB using discrete analyzer (AQ 300, Seal Analytical) according to U.S. EPA methods (Table 1). Event, monthly, seasonal, and annual mass balance fluxes of water, sediment, TP, TDP, PP, and TN in the water inflows and outflow will be calculated for each ARTS.nnual sediment accumulation within the sedimentation basins will be evaluated through annual soft sediment measurements and sediment coring in September or October of each year. The total accumulated soft sediment mass will be determined each year and annual deposition rates will be estimated based on subtraction. Sediment samples will also be analyzed at a contract lab for TP, Bray-P, Ca, Fe, OM, pH, TC, & TN. Annual estimates of sediment and sediment-based phosphorus and nitrogen will be compared to mass balance estimates of the quantity retained in the ARTS. Obj. 3: Waste residuals (e.g., drinking water treatment residuals, wood waste, vegetative waste) will be modified (through metal additions, heat treatment, pelletizing, and binder addition) for and evaluated for dissolved P and N removal from agricultural runoff.reatment potential of modified waste media will be measured using flow through lab scale reactors constructed out of 0.75-inch diameter PVC pipe. Columns with 3 inches of media will receive standard solutions of P and N (nitrate and ammonium) at concentrations similar to existing ARTS effluent. Both single-, bi-, and tri-solute solutions will be evaluated for each media to assess binding in flow through systems. Hydraulic retention times between 1 and 10 minutes will be simulated through the media by controlling flow rate of standard solutions ranging between 11 mL s-1 and 1.1 mL s-1, for evaluation of both high and low flow treatment systems. Columns will be completed in triplicate for each media. Influent and effluent samples will be collected every 5 to 10 hours until effluent P is >50% of influent P. Total dissolved phosphorus, total ammoniacal nitrogen, and nitrite + nitrate will be measured using a discrete analyzer (Seal AQ300) at UWGB.Media with the greatest treatment potential will be selected for deployment in the field. Prior to deployment media will be evaluated for aquatic toxicology to ensure no undesirable impacts from reactive media. A contract lab will measure the Lethal Concentration (LC50) or Effective Concentration (EC50) of treated runoff for Daphnia magna. Results will be used in an additive review for the approval of reactive media in the field.Obj. 4.: Selection of native plants for ARTS. Suitable native plants for ARTS will be grown from seed and/or bare root plant material and transplanted into the 150-gallon stock tank ponds for the evaluation of nutrient cycling and crayfish growth.Experiments will be completed through a 56-day trial period with daily and weekly analysis of water quality. Samples of plant material before establishment in the stock tank treatments and at the end of the experiment will be dried, ground, and processed for total nitrogen and carbon at UWGB. Elemental tissue composition of N, P, K, Mg, S, Zn, Mn, B, Cu and Fe will be analyzed at a contract lab. Plant material will be analyzed at the species level separately for above and below-ground material (where appropriate). Total biomass production above and belowground will be measured to determine rates of nutrient uptake for each species (in mixture). Productivity and nutrient uptake for each species in monoculture will be assessed in a similar way using individual plants grown in small aquaria.To determine aquatic organisms for sedimentation basins, stakeholders will be surveyed.Laboratory trials will be completed in 150-liter stock tanks with 10 mm of sediment and water from ARTS. Aquatic organisms will be added to three tanks at a stocking rate from literature; growth performance and water quality will be monitored over 56 days. Water temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen will be monitored daily and one sample from each tank will be analyzed for total ammoniacal nitrogen, nitrite, and nitrate using a discrete analyzer at UWGB. Growth performance and survival rate will be measured at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks.Pilot ponds, consisting of above ground 1,100L stock tanks, will be used to measure impacts of aeration, crayfish, and vegetation on nutrient dynamics.Experiments will be completed in triplicate over two months under conditions simulating ARTS sedimentation basins. Dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, ammonium, and nitrate will be measured twice weekly using multiparameter digital water quality meter. Additional water quality (i.e., TP, DP, and TKN) will be measured on samples at the beginning of the experiment and every seven days afterward. Water samples will be split for TKN, TP, and TDP analysis and refrigerated and preserved as necessary before analysis through a Seal AQ300 discrete analyzer at UWGB. Three sediment cores will be taken from each pilot pond at the beginning of the experiment and monthly afterwards.Obj 5: To better characterize the temporal (seasonal, event, intra-event) dynamics of SS, TP and DP within ARTS, autonomous water quality (i.e., DP, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and temperature) monitoring technologies will be installed within ARTS. Two different automated technologies will be used for determining dissolved phosphate dynamics.Obj 6.: Outreach and extension programming will relay project information to stakeholders aimed at providing producers with the necessary information to sustainably integrate ARTS.Guidance will include measures for engineers, producers, and regulators to select reactive media and avoid pitfalls.