Evaluation of vegetated filter strips for attenuation of pollutants resulting from military activities



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Kansas State University


A field study was conducted at Fort Riley, Kansas from late spring to early winter of 2007 to investigate the ability of vegetated filter strips (VFS) to attenuate pollutants resulting from military activities, the impact of different management practices (i.e. burning and mowing) on VFS performance, and the effects of vegetation on hydrological components of VFS, especially infiltration and runoff. Two native tallgrass VFS sites, each comprising three plots, located in the military training area of Fort Riley were used for this study. Fifteen rainfall events were simulated on each site along with overland application of water containing nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and sediment. At the end of the season both VFS were managed by mowing or burning and a final rainfall simulation was done.
Variables including rainfall, infiltration, runon, runoff, above ground biomass density, pollutant concentrations of runon and runoff, and soil moisture were measured and used in the data analysis. Hydrograph development, water balance, and mass balance calculations were carried out in order to calculate the pollutant trapping efficiencies (PTE) of the VFS. Statistical analysis was done by fitting several regression models. Mean comparisons were also done for variables and variance was decomposed into time, plot and site effects at an alpha = 0.05. Results showed that on average the VFS attenuated 84 % of total nitrogen, 24 % of total phosphorous and 95 % of sediments. Regression models showed that infiltration percentage and biomass density have a positive correlation with PTE. Runoff volume and PTE were negatively correlated. Soil moisture was negatively correlated with infiltration and time to runoff. With increasing biomass density, percentage of water infiltrating and time of concentration increased. Management practices, especially burning, tended to reduce PTE. Also, both management practices reduced infiltration percentage and time of concentration. PTE reduced with intensifying rainfall and increased when rainfall faded off. Phosphorous was the most sensitive pollutant for intense storm conditions followed by nitrogen, while sediment was comparatively insensitive.



Vegetated filter strips, Non-point source pollution, Pollutant attenuation

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Major Professor

Stacy L. Hutchinson