Nonpoint-Source Pollutant Load Reductions Associated with Livestock Exclusion
Journal of Environmental Engineering , 29 , 2000

Line, D. E., Harman, W.A., Jennings, G.D., Thompson, E.J., Osmond, D.L.

Cattle (Bos taurus) grazing on unimproved pastures can be a significant, yet often overlooked, source of pollutants to surface waters, especially when the cattle have unlimited access to streams in the pastures. Livestock exclusion from streams has been demonstrated to reduce sediment and possibly nutrient yield from streams draining pastures. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of excluding dairy cows from, and planting trees in, a 335-m-long and 10- to 16-m- wide riparian corridor along a small North Carolina stream. Analysis of 81 wk of pre-exclusion and 137 wk of post-exclusion fencing data documented 33, 78, 76, and 82% reductions in weekly nitrate + nitrite, total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), total phosphorus (TP), and sediment loads, respectively, from the 14.9-ha pasture area adjacent to the fenced section of stream. Statistical analyses by t-tests and analysis of variance suggested that the reductions in mean weekly loads post-fencing were significant (P < 0.05) for all pollutants except nitrate + nitrite. Thus, the results indicated that livestock exclusion and subsequent riparian vegetation establishment was effective at reducing pollutant export from an intensively grazed pasture.