Efficacy of natural grassland buffers for removal of Cryptosporidium parvum in rangeland runoff

Edward R Atwill, Kenneth W. Tate, Maria Das Gracas Cabral Pereira, James Bartolome, Glenn Nader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Our goal for this project was to estimate the retention efficiency of natural grassland buffers for Cryptosporidium parvum. Three sets of 16 plots (2.0 by 3.0 m) were established at 5, 20, and 35% slopes. Within each set of 16 plots, residual dry vegetation matter treatments of 225, 560, and 900 kg/ha were implemented, along with a noncut control averaging 4,500 kg/ ha. Buffer width treatments were implemented by placing cattle fecal material containing known loads of C. parvum 0.1, 1.1, or 2.1 m up-slope of the runoff collector. Grassland buffers of 1.1 and 2.1 m generated 3.2- to 8.8-log and 3.6- to 8.8-log retention of C. parvum, respectively, across the range of residual dry vegetation matter, land slope, rainfall, and runoff conditions examined during this project. Buffers with an increased percent land slope exhibited improved the retention efficiencies, whereas buffers experiencing larger maximum annual runoff events exhibited reduced retention efficiencies. Water-quality data from the 0.1-m-wide buffer plots (effectively no buffer) demonstrated that the majority of C. parvum oocysts (98 to 99.999%) were retained in the fecal matrix for the duration of the storm season, irrespective of the presence of a vegetated buffer. In conclusion, these results support the assertion that grassland buffers are an effective method for reducing animal agricultural inputs of waterborne C. parvum into drinking and irrigation water supplies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology


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