Prairie Strips Reduce Fecal Indicator Bacteria Concentrations in Simulated Runoff

Submitted by barogers on Thu, 11/17/2022 - 10:02

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Volume 59, Issue 2, p.244-256 (2022)



Vegetative filter strips (VFS) have shown promising results in reducing the downstream transport of many agroecosystem contaminants. A recently developed type of VFS, prairie strips, has been shown to significantly reduce the impact of corn and soybean production systems on water quality in terms of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus losses. This study assessed potential additional benefits of prairie strips to include the reduction of pathogens. To assess the impact of prairie strips on manure-laden agricultural runoff, we utilized a physical model of prairie strips in a laboratory flume to conduct highly controlled overland flow experiments.&nbsp;<em>Escherichia coli</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Enterococcus</em>&nbsp;concentration reductions of up to 45% and 65% were observed for runoff and infiltration flows, respectively, while mass load reductions of up to 65% were observed for surficial runoff flows. The degree of concentration or mass load reductions was dependent on the residence time of the flow within the strip and the partitioning of overland flow running onto the strip to infiltration and runoff flows. Based on our results and a review of the literature, we developed a design method to provide guidance on the width of prairie strip buffer needed to achieve a user-defined reduction of fecal bacteria concentration.