Using Geotextile Fabric in Livestock Operations
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet , AEX-304-97 , 1997

Ruhl, S., Overmoyer, J. Barker, D., Brown, L.C.

Wet soil conditions in animal feeding and high-traffic live- stock handling areas cause problems for both animals and producers, as well as the environment. Ruminating animals, such as beef, dairy, and sheep, often concentrate at stream crossings, in paddock lanes, and in feedlots and barnyards. In association with animal production, there will be concentrated farm vehicular and equipment traffic. When the animal and/or equipment traffic is excessively high, the vegetation is destroyed. During and after rainy weather, the soil in these areas turns to mud, creating an unhealthy environment for optimal livestock production, poor traction for farm equipment, and potentially poor surface water quality. Once these areas dry, they may provide rough and possibly hazardous footing for the animals. After the vegetation in these concentrated areas is destroyed, the soil is bare and subject to erosion. In addition, once wet soil that has been trampled by livestock dries, it has a greatly reduced infiltration rate, and thus a much higher potential for producing runoff of soil and manure. Both of these conditions are conducive to creating a water quality problem. However, all of the conditions summarized above cause problems for producers as they try to properly manage the many operations for a profitable livestock production system. The use of geotextile fabric in these high-traffic livestock areas can substantially reduce the occurrence of adverse conditions (see Figure 1). The installation of geotextile fabric combined with gravel can help provide a proper surface that animals, humans, vehicles, and equipment can travel on, and can also provide an erosion control benefit. The purpose of this publication is to help producers, landowners, and agency and industry personnel who work with producers and landowners, understand the proper application, installation, and maintenance of geotextile fabric for agricultural applications. This publication provides an overview of a demonstration project (Using Geotextile Cloth in Livestock Operations to Reduce Nutrient and Sediment Loading in the Olentangy Watershed) on the use of geotextile fabric in high-traffic livestock areas. Some of the material provided is based on cooperative agency-industry-producer experiences from twelve project sites constructed in Morrow County, Ohio, during 1994.