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Electromagnetic Induction Methods Applied to an Abandoned Manure Handling Site to Determine Nutrient Buildup

Eigenberg, Roger A., Nienaber, John A.
Journal of environmental quality 2003 v.32 no.5 pp. 1837
animal manures, soil pollution, polluted soils, electrical conductivity, electromagnetic induction techniques, nutrients, nitrate nitrogen, chlorides, inorganic salts, image analysis
Movement of nutrients from livestock manure handling sites has the potential to negatively impact the environment. This study was conducted using electromagnetic induction (EMI) measurements to develop apparent soil electrical conductivity (EC) maps to identify regions of nutrient buildup beneath an abandoned compost site. A trailer-mounted EM-38 coupled with a global positioning satellite system was towed across an area used for composting of feedlot manure. The resulting EC maps were compared with known locations of compost rows confirming the alignment of row locations with high EC regions. The identified rows were cored and compared with the region between the rows. The identified rows with a compost history demonstrated significant (< 0.05) increases in soluble salts (1.6 times greater), NO (6.0 times greater), and Cl (2.0 times greater) compared with the area between the rows at a 1.5-m depth. Image processing techniques were used to display yearly changes that were associated with nutrient movement and transformations in the soil beneath the site. Correlations between EMI measurements and soil core analyses for NO–N, Cl, and EC provided ancillary support for the EMI methods. The use of EMI for mapping of sites having a history of livestock waste application was effective in delineating high nutrient buildup areas and for observing spatial EC changes over time.