LSU Ag Center researchers look for better ways to assess pollution in Tangipahoa River

Researchers at the LSU Agricultural Center are looking for better ways to assess possible sources of pollution in the Tangipahoa River.

Dr. Caye Drapcho, an assistant professor in the Ag Center's Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, is leading a team of scientists trying to help maintain the delicate balance between recreational activities and the needs of livestock producers, who also enjoy the outdoors and don't want to be responsible for disrupting the environmental equilibrium.

The Tangipahoa River has had problems with high levels of coliform bacteria for many years, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has identified the dairy industry as a source of the contamination along with municipal wastewater.

Drapcho is working with Dr. Jim Beatty, resident director of the Ag Center's Southeast Research Station in Franklinton, and Dr. Eric Achberger, associate professor in the Ag Center's Department of Biological Sciences, on a five-year project studying the environmental effects of the Southeast Station's dairy farm.

The researchers are investigating the impact of animal wastes on the river system and designing ways to manage these wastes, Drapcho says. They're evaluating such management practices as vegetative buffers, retention ponds and other deterrents to allowing animal wastes to reach waterways. They also want to help producers continue grazing their cattle without affecting water quality.

"We want to create an atmosphere where dairying and recreation can coexist," Drapcho says.

Drapcho's work focuses both on identifying and assessing non-point source pollution and on designing control systems for point source pollution such as animal feedlots and confinement facilities.

As part of their work in the Tangipahoa watershed, the Ag Center researchers have installed automated water sampling equipment to measure both natural runoff and "agricultural storm water" that collects in

Contact: Rick Bogren
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

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