WRI 95-4064

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Hatzell, H.H., 1995, Effects of waste-disposal practices on ground-water quality at five-poultry (Broiler) farms in north-central Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4064, 35 p.


Waste-disposal areas such as chicken-house floors, litter stockpiles, fields that receive applications of litter, and dead-chicken pits are potential sources of nitrates and other chemical constituents in downward-percolating recharge water. Broiler-farms in north-central Florida are concentrated in a region where the Upper Floridan aquifer is unconfined and susceptible to contamination. Eighteen monitoring wells installed at five sites were sampled quarterly from March 1992 through January 1993. Increases in median concentrations of constituents relative to an upgradient well were used to determine the source of the nitrate at two sites. At these sites, increases in the median concentrations of nitrate as nitrogen in ground water in the vicinity of waste-disposal areas at these sites were: 5.4 mg/L for one chicken house; 9.0 mg/L for a second chicken house; 2.0 mg/L for a fallow field that received an application of litter; and, 2.0 mg/L for a dead-chicken pit. At the three remaining sites where the direction of local ground-water flow could not be ascertained, the sources of concentrations of nitrate and other constituents could not be determined. However, median nitrate concentrations in the vicinity of waste-disposal areas at these sites were: 45.5 mg/L for a set of two chicken houses; 3.0 mg/L for a stockpile area; and, 2.1 mg/L for a hayfield that received an application of litter. The nitrate concentration in ground water in the vicinity of a field that had previously received heavy applications of litter increased from 3.0 mg/L to 105 mg/L approximately 4 months after receiving an application of commercial fertilizer. Increases in concentrations of organic nitrogen in ground water in the vicinity of waste-disposal areas may be related to the decomposition of litter and subsequent movement with downward percolating recharge water.

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