Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the ASAE VOL. 43(6): 1583-1588 2000. Published by American Society of Agricultural Engineers.


Manure has been used effectively to improve crop production and soil properties because it contains nutrients and organic matter. While it is generally accepted that the improved soil properties associated with manure application lead to changes in runoff and soil erosion, few studies have quantified these impacts. Water quality models used to assess watershed management and estimate total maximum daily load must accurately predict loading rates from fields where manure has been applied. This study was conducted to assemble and summarize information quantifying the effects of manure application on runoff and soil loss resulting from natural precipitation events, and to develop regression equations relating runoff and soil loss to annual manure application rates. For selected locations at which manure was added annually, runoff was reduced from 2 to 62%, and soil loss decreased from 15 to 65% compared to non-manured sites. Measured runoff and soil loss values were reduced substantially as manure application rates increased. Regression equations were developed relating runoff and soil loss to manure application for rates ranging from 11 to 45 Mg ha–1, and slope lengths varying from 21 to 24 m. The equations can be used in estimating environmental impacts or to account for manure applications in water quality modeling efforts.