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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 11 No. 1, p. 31-34
    Received: Feb 8, 1980

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Casein Whey Wastewater Effects on Soil Permeability1

  1. K. W. McAuliffe,
  2. D. R. Scotter,
  3. A. N. MacGregor and
  4. K. D. Earl2



Wastewater containing casein whey can impede soil water movement. A single 35-mm application of simulated whey effluent to “undisturbed” soil cores resulted in approximately a 50% reduction in the saturated hydraulic conductivity (K) within 2 days. Repetitive applications to some cores caused a K decrease of over 99%. Subsequently all cores showed signs of biologically induced recovery within 1 to 3 weeks of the final effluent application, and in some cores, particularly those containing earthworms, the final K value eventually exceeded the initial value. Both physical and biological processes appear responsible for the K decrease following effluent application, with the degree of physical pore blockage dependent upon the particulate matter in the effluent.

A number of practical implications can be inferred from the results. To avoid reduction in saturated hydraulic conductivity an aerobic soil environment should be maintained, thus a land disposal site should never be overloaded so that ponding occurs. A spelling interval between applications is necessary to allow K recovery. Pore blockage would be lessened, but not eliminated, if suspended solids were removed from the effluent prior to irrigation.

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