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Development and performance assessment of an integrated vermifiltration based treatment system for the treatment of feedlot runoff

Singh Rajneesh, Matteo D’Alessio, Yulie Meneses, Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt, Bryan Woodbury, Chittaranjan Ray
Journal of cleaner production 2021 v.278 no. pp. 123355
Carex, Lumbricus, biodegradation, biofilters, chemical oxygen demand, earthworms, ecosystems, feedlots, longevity, macrophytes, nitrification, nitrogen, observational studies, oxidation, roots, runoff, soil, vermifiltration, wetland plants
The objective of this study was to treat feedlot runoff by developing an ecologically sustainable, affordable, and resilient treatment system having a relatively long life span. Three horizontal flow soil biofilters were utilized in this study: 1) without earthworms and plants (Biofilter (BF)), 2) with earthworms only (Vermifilter (VF)), and 3) with earthworms and plants (Macrophyte Assisted Vermifilter (MAVF)). The experiments were conducted with a hydraulic retention time of four days using Lumbricus terestrris earthworms and Carex frankii wetland plants. The average COD removal from the BF, VF, and MAVF were 23.2–30.4%, 61.4–69.1%, and 68.3–78.1%, respectively. Average TN removal efficiencies for BF, VF, and MAVF were 15.5–21.4%, 34.4–38.8%, and 39.1–44.0%, respectively. Additionally, average TP removals for BF, VF, and MAVF were 31.9–40.8%, 48.0–54.0%, and 51.1–58.3%, respectively. Comparison of results with literature indicate that the developed system can facilitate more nitrogen removal. Plant roots, along with earthworms, create an aerobic ecosystem within the treatment filter, leading to high organics oxidation and nitrification efficiency among BF, VF, and MAVF. Observational analysis indicates the system with earthworms is prone to clogging while the system with earthworms and plants was less prone to clogging. Thus, it can be concluded that if modularized, the application of MAVF systems can treat feedlot runoffs with higher removal efficiency and expanded life span.