Fecal coliform transport through intact soil blocks amended with poultry manure

S. W. McMurry, M. S. Coyne, E. Perfect

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Poultry production in Kentucky increased almost 200% between 1991 and 1995. Their waste is typically land applied, and fecal pathogen runoff and infiltration may cause nonpoint source groundwater pollution. We looked at the preferential flow of fecal coliforms through undisturbed soil blocks since fecal bacteria typically infiltrate the soil profile to contaminate groundwater. Poultry manure was uniformly distributed on top of sod-covered or tilled (upper 12.5 cm) soil blocks and the blocks were irrigated. Drainage was collected in 100 uniformly spaced cells beneath each block and analyzed for fecal coliform content and drainage volume. The spatial distribution of drainage and fecal coliforms through the soil blocks was not uniform. Fecal coliforms appeared where mostdrainage flowed. Drainage water from each soil block consistently exceeded 200 000 fecal coliforms per 100 mL and was as great as 30 million fecal coliforms per 100 mL of leachate collected. Fecal coliforms leached as a pulse, but the breakthrough of fecal coliforms through tilled blocks was delayed with respect to the breakthrough of fecal coliforms through sod-covered blocks. Rainfall on a well-structured soil will cause the preferential movement of fecal bacteria, even with unsaturated flow conditions, and could contribute to fecal coliform concentrations in shallow groundwater that exceed standards for domestic discharge and primary contact water in Kentucky (200 fecal califorms/100 mL).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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