Soil and vegetation are two critical factors for controlling the overland transport kinetics of pathogens in a natural environment. With livestock operations moving more towards concentrated animal operations, the need to dispose of a very large amount of manure in a localized area is becoming increasingly important. Animal manure contains a substantial amount of microbial pathogens, including rotavirus, which may pose a threat of contamination of water resources. This study examined the kinetics of rotavirus in overland transport, with an overall objective of optimizing the design of best management practices, especially vegetative filter strips. The overland transport of rotavirus was studied using three soil types (Catlin silt-loam, Darwin silty-clay, Alvin fine sandy-loam), spanning the entire spectrum of typical Illinois soil textures. A 20-min rainfall event was produced using a small-scale (1.07 m × 0.66 m) laboratory rainfall simulator over a soil box measuring 0.610 m × 0.305 m. Each soil type was tested for rotavirus transport kinetics with bare surface conditions, as well as with Smooth Brome and Fescue vegetative covers. Surface runoff, near-surface runoff, soil cores, and vegetation were each analyzed for infective rotavirus particles using cell-culture infectivity assays. Results show that vegetation reduces the recovery of infective rotavirus particles in surface runoff by an average of 73%, in addition to delaying the time to peak recovery. The vegetation, in general, appeared to decrease the recovery of infective rotavirus particles in surface runoff by impeding surface flow and increasing the potential for infiltration into the soil profile.
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