A University of Missouri undergraduate honors researcher has found that common polymers used on construction sites and irrigation fields to reduce soil erosion also can help treat water from livestock lagoons.

The polymers, called polyacrylamides, or PAMs, are relatively inexpensive chemicals that are absorbed by the soil and can help bind soil particles. They have no significant movement below the root zone and degrade over time, not affecting water quality in streams.

Todd Bolte of New Haven, Mo., who earned his bachelor's degree in biological engineering from MU this spring, combined PAMs with other chemicals to test for improved water quality using effluent from a dairy farm.