Protocol for Determining the Cost/Benefit of a Manure Storage Lagoon Cover

Do Manure Storage Covers Pay?

A protocol was developed to determine the cost/benefit of installing a cover over a manure storage structure. Included are a discussion on the cost and selection of the cover, a procedure to determine the feasibility of biogas production and capture, the technique to estimate the dilution of the slurry resulting from precipitation, and tools to estimate ammonia emissions, thereby predict the increase in nitrogen content and the savings from reduced fertilizer hauling. By considering the combination of all of these factors, the payback period can be calculated.

Current Activity

The protocol has been developed and a case study was performed. A manuscript is in preparation.

What We Have Learned

Techniques to identify the items that determine the cost and benefit have been researched and refined for the protocol. Based on a sensitivity analysis a crucial benefit is the savings associated with keeping precipitation out of the manure thus avoiding extra hauling costs. As a result, relatively short payback periods can be realized.

Why is This Important

One of the most common practices to store manure is the use of open storage structures. Numerous problems for farmers are created by the open structure including ammonia loss, methane emissions, odor complaints, and increased hauling of manure slurry. Covering a lagoon offers substantial environmental benefits and can save farmers money.

a lagoon cover recently installed on a dairy farm

For More Information

Steve Safferman
Michigan State University
Biosystems Engineering
202 Farrall Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824

This report was prepared for the annual meeting of the regional research committee, S-1032 “Animal Manure and Waste Utilization, Treatment and Nuisance Avoidance for a Sustainable Agriculture”. This report is not peer-reviewed and the author has sole responsibility for the content.