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Management reduces E. coli in irrigated pasture runoff

  • Author(s): Knox, A. Kate
  • Tate, Kenneth W.
  • Dahlgren, Randy A.
  • Atwill, Edward R.
  • et al.
Abstract

Microbial pollutants, some of which can cause illnesses in humans, chronically contaminate many California water bodies. Among numerous sources, runoff from irrigated pastures has been identified as an important regulatory target for improving water quality. This study examined the potential to reduce E. coli contamination from cattle in irrigated pastures. During the 14 irrigation events examined, we found that E. coli concentrations were lowest with a combination of three treatments: filtering runoff through a natural wetland, reducing runoff rates, and letting the pasture rest from grazing at least a week prior to irrigation. Integrated pasture and tailwater management are required to significantly reduce E. coli concentrations in runoff.

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