, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 519-531

Selecting Suitable Sites for Animal Waste Application Using a Raster GIS

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Rapid growth of intensive animal industries in southeast Queensland, Australia, has led to large volumes of animal waste production, which posses serious environmental problems in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB). This study presents a method of selecting sites for the safe application of animal waste as fertiliser to agricultural land. A site suitability map for the Westbrook subcatchment within the MDB was created using a geographic information system (GIS)-based weighted linear combination (WLC) model. The factors affecting the suitability of a site for animal waste application were selected, and digital data sets derived from up to 1:50,000 scale maps were acquired. After initial preprocessing, digital data sets were clipped to the size of the delineated subcatchment boundary producing input factors. These input factors were weighted using the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) that employed an objectives-oriented comparison (OOC) technique to formulate the pairwise comparison matrix. The OOC technique, which is capable of deriving factor weight independently, formulated the weight derivation process by making it more logical and systematic. The factor attributes were classified into multiple classes and weighted using the AHP. The effects of the number of input factors and factor weighting on the areal extent and the degree of site suitability were examined. Due to the presence of large nonagricultural and residential areas in the subcatchment, only 16% of the area was found suitable for animal waste application. The areal extent resulting from this site suitability assessment was found to be dependent on the areal constraints imposed on each input factor, while the degree of suitability was principally a function of the weight distribution between the factors.