Jointly funded and supported research by the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center, SyracuseCoE (New York’s Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems), and Center for Environmental Systems Engineering at Syracuse University was awarded third place out of 170 projects at the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University in January. The research was presented by Syracuse University L.C. Smith College of Civil and Environmental Engineering student Gerardo Martinez.

The project, CAFO Leachate Management through Dairy Wetlands, studies the effectiveness of a constructed wetland at treating silage leachate and barnyard runoff at a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Madison County, NY.

For a one and a half year period, staff members from Syracuse EFC collected monthly water samples which were analyzed by students from the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering, led by Dr. Charles Driscoll. The samples were analyzed the samples for levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria, and suspended solids, among other tests, to measure the efficiency of the wetland for improving water quality. This collective effort will result in a better understanding of best management practices on CAFOs.

 


CAFO Leachate Management Through Dairy Wetlands

Leachate runoff from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) can impair local watersheds if not properly managed. A dairy CAFO in Madison County, New York employs a wetland system designed to treat the farm’s high-flow silage (low concentration) leachate, and barnyard runoff. Designed by the County’s Soil and Water Conservation District office, the constructed wetland consists of a catchment basin, four filter cells and a drain field in which the leachate travels before the treated product enters a small stream. To better understand the system’s efficiency as well as biological and chemical processes, the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center partnered with the Center for Environmental Systems Engineering at Syracuse University and a private sector water-testing lab to monitor the wetland monthly through several sampling tests. Samples were collected to test for levels of fecal coliform, BOD5, pH, ANC, DOC, TN, P, TS, TSS, Hg, various other metals, and more. A flora inventory was also part of the study to serve as an indicator of biological efficiency, diversity and overall health of the wetland. This collective effort will result in a better understanding of best management practices on CAFOs and beyond. For more details, please contact Brad DeFrees at bdefrees@syracusecoe.org.