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What is a VTS and How Does it Work

A Vegetative Treatment System (VTS) is a system that can be applied on small to medium sized, open lot, livestock feeding operations. It is a system comprised of a solids settling basin, an outlet structure, and a Vegetative Treatment Area (VTA). The VTA replaces the need for a conventional holding pond that is typically used in feedlots.



A VTA is commonly confused with vegetative buffer (or filter) strips. A buffer strip is a narrow strip of vegetation (usually 30-60 feet wide), between cropland and a stream or other surface water, while a VTS is a system to completely control runoff. 



Drawing of a "gravity flow" VTS system. Not suitable for uneven ground and may require significant land improvement.

A VTS should consume the water and utilizes the nutrients in the liquid runoff. The operation of the sediment basin is the same as is required in traditional waste storage systems as a VTS takes the place of a holding pond and irrigation system. The solids from the sediment basin must periodically be removed and land applied.


A VTA uses the water holding capacity of the soil to "store" runoff water until the nutrients and water can be used by the vegetation. The application of the runoff to the VTA must be at a rate that is high enough to prevent deep percolation past the root zone, yet low enough that flow does not extend past the end of the treatment area during the design runoff event.



Drawing of a "pressurized sprinkler" VTS system providing much better distribution uniformity, even on uneven ground.

Sprinkler VTS are a new type of livestock Waste Control Facilities geared for the smaller feedlot. Such systems have been pioneered by UNL Extension.


Video and graphics courtesy of Chris Henry and Jason Gross

UNL Extension Small AFO Team

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