Predicting Manure Nitrogen and Phosphorus Characteristics of Beef Open Lot Systems

This project involves the analysis of a new data set for manure characteristics from open lot beef systems demonstrating both average characteristics and factors contribution to variability in manure characteristics among these systems. Defining the characteristics and quantities of harvested manure and runoff from open earthen lot animal systems is critical to planning storage requirements, land requirements for nutrient utilization, land application rates, and logistical issues, such as equipment and labor requirements. Accuracy of these estimates are critical to planning processes required by federal and state permitting programs. Poor estimates can lead to discharges that result in court action and fines, neighbor nuisance complaints, and surface and ground water degradation. Planning procedures have historically relied upon standard values published by NRCS (Stettler et al., 2008), MWPS (Lorimor et al., 2000), and ASABE (2014) for average characteristics.

What Did We Do?

A large data set of analyses from manure samples collected over a 15-year period from 444 independent cattle feedlot pens at a single eastern Nebraska research facility was reviewed to provide insight to the degree of variability in observed manure characteristics and to investigate the factors influencing this variability. No previous efforts to define these characteristics have included data gathered over such a wide range of dietary strategies and weather conditions. This exclusive research data set is expected to provide new insights regarding influential factors affecting characteristics of manure and runoff harvested from open lot beef systems. The objective of this paper is to share a preliminary summary of findings based upon a review of this data set.

What Have We Learned?

A review of this unique data set reveals several important preliminary observations. Standard values reported by ASABE and MWPS for beef manure characteristics in open lot systems are relatively poor indicators of the significant variability that is observed within open lot feeding systems. Our data set reveals significant differences between manure characteristics as a function of feeding period (Table 1) and substantial variability within feeding period, as illustrated by the large coefficients of variation for individual characteristics. Differences in winter and summer conditions influence the characteristics and quantities of solids, organic matter, and nutrients in the harvested manure. The timing of the feeding period has substantial influence on observed differences in nitrogen loss and nitrogen in manure (Figure 1). Nitrogen recovery for the warmer summer feeding periods averaged 51 and 6 grams/head/day in the manure and runoff, respectively, with losses estimated to be 155 grams/head/day.  Similarly, nitrogen recovery in manure and runoff for the winter feeding period was 90 and 4 grams/head/day, respectively, with losses estimated at 92 grams/head/day (Figure 1 and Koelsch, et al., 2018). In addition, differences in weather and pen conditions during and following winter and summer feeding periods impact manure moisture content and the mixing of inorganics with manure (Table 1).

Table 1. Characteristics of manure collected from 216 and 228 cattle feedlot pens during Summer and Winter feeding periods, respectively1.
University of Nebraska Feedlot in East Central Nebraska Standard Values
Summer Winter ASABE NRCS MWPS3
Mean CV2 Mean CV2 Mean Mean
Total Manure (wet basis), kg/hd/d 9.3 99% 13.1 43% 7.5 7.9
DM    % 71% 10% 63.2% 15% 67% Collected 55%
    kg/hd/d 5.4 80% 8.0 41% 5.0 manure 4.3
OM    % 24% 28% 25.3% 41% 30% is not 50%
    kg/hd/d 1.00 52% 1.87 41% 1.5 reported. 2.2
Ash    % 76% 9% 74.7% 14% 70% 50%
    kg/hd/d 4.16 72% 6.10 49% 3.5 2.2
N    % 1.3% 36% 1.19% 23% 1.18% 1.2%
    g/hd/d 51 50% 90 33% 88 95
P    % 0.37% 41% 0.34% 29% 0.50% 0.35%
    k/hd/d 17.7 55% 26.0 42% 37.5 27.7
DM = dry matter; OM = organic matter (or volatile solids)

1    Summer = April to October feeding period, Winter = November to May feeding period

2    Coefficient of variation, %

3    Unsurfaced lot in dry climate with annual manure removal.

two pie charts
Figure 1. Distribution of dietary nitrogen consumed by beef cattle among four possible ed points for summer and winter feeding periods.

Dietary concentration of nutrients was observed to influence the harvested manure P content (Figure 2) but produce minimal impact on harvested manure N content (not shown). Diet was an important predictor in observed N losses, especially during the summer feeding period. However, its limited value for predicting harvested manure N and moderate value for predicting harvesting manure P suggests that other factors such as weather and management may be influential in determining N and P recovered (Koelsch, et al., 2018).

scatter plot with trendlines
Figure 2. Influence of dietary P concentration on harvested manure P.

Significant variability exists in the quantity of total solids of manure harvested with a factor of 10 difference between the observed low and high values when compared on a mass per finished head basis (note large CVs in Table 1). This variability has significant influence on quality of the manure collected as represented by organic matter, ash content, and moisture content.

Although individual experimental trials comparing practices to increase organic matter on the feedlot surface have demonstrated some benefit to reducing nitrogen losses, the overall data set does not demonstrate value from higher pen surface organic matter for conservation of N in the manure (Koelsch, et al., 2018). However, higher organic matter manure is correlated to improved nitrogen concentration in the manure suggesting a higher value for the manure (Figure 3).

scatter plot with trendlines
Figure 3. Influence of pen surface organic matter measured as organic matter in the harvested manure) on nitrogen concentration in the manure.

It is typically recommended that manure management planning should be based upon unique analysis for manure characteristics representative of the manure being applied.  The large variability in harvested manure from open lot beef systems observed in this study further confirms the importance of this recommendation. The influence of weather on the manure and the management challenges of collecting manure from these systems adds to the complexity of predicting manure characteristics.  In addition, standard reporting methods such as ASABE should consider reporting of separate standard values based upon time of the year feeding and/or manure collection period. This review of beef manure characteristics over a 15 year period further documents the challenge of planning based upon typical or standard value for open lot beef manure.

Future Plans

The compilation and analysis of the manure and runoff data from these 444 independent measure of feedlot manure characteristics is a part of an undergraduate student research experience. Final review and analysis of this data will be completed by summer 2019 with the data published at a later time. The authors will explore the value of this data for adjusting beef manure characteristics for ASABE’s Standard (ASABE, 2014).

References

ASABE. 2014.  ASAE D384.2 MAR2005 (R2014):  Manure Production and Characteristics. ASABE, St. Joseph, Ml. 32 pages.

Koelsch, R. , G. Erickson2, M. Homolka2, M. Luebbe. 2018. redicting Manure Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Carbon Characteristics of Beef Open Lot Systems. Presented at the 2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting. 15 pages.

Lorimor, J., W. Powers, and A. Sutton. 2000. Manure characteristics. Manure Management Systems Series MWPS-18. Midwest Plan Service. Ames Iowa: Iowa State University.

Stettler, D., C. Zuller, D. Hickman. 2008. Agricultural Waste Characteristics.  Chapter 4 of Part 651, NRCS Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook. pages 4-1 to 4-32.

 

Authors

Richard (Rick) Koelsch, Professor of Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

rkoelsch1@unl.edu

Megan Homolka, student, and Galen Erickson Professor of Animal Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Additional Information

Koelsch, R. , G. Erickson2, M. Homolka2, M. Luebbe. 2018. Predicting Manure Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Carbon Characteristics of Beef Open Lot Systems. Presented at the 2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting. 15 pages.

 

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Spatial and Temporal Soil Nitrogen Distribution After Shallow Disk Manure Injection in Corn

The purpose of this field research was to explore nitrogen (N) distribution in the form of nitrate and ammonium in both a spatial and temporal manner over two seasons in manure injection plots in central Pennsylvania. The description of N movement from high concentration at the manure band through the season can aid in understanding of nutrient migration and utilization efficiencies. The work was complimentary to previous soil sampling protocol developed for mid-season nitrate testing in corn fields with injected manure.

Mid-season soil testing for N protocols such as the Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test in corn can be valuable tools to examine nutrient efficiencies. Economic benefit can result when producers use test information to determine if current soil N will allow maximum crop growth or if additional N sidedressing is needed to reach yield goals. Environmental benefits of the test include optimizing in-field N while minimizing excess application of the nutrient. However, conducting the test on soils where manure injection has occurred presents accuracy challenges due to uneven nutrient distribution. A soil sampling protocol for these scenarios was presented at the 2017 Waste to Worth Conference. The protocol calls for composite collection of four sets of soil samples, with each set containing five soil cores of 12-inch depth collected six inches apart from each other in a line perpendicular to the direction of manure injection (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Earlier work determined that collecting and compositing four sets of five soil samples that were 12-inches deep and 6-inches apart where manure injection banding was in place was an accurate substitution for Pre-sidedress Nitrate Testing compared to soils with surface broadcasted nitrogen.
Figure 1. Earlier work determined that collecting and compositing four sets of five soil samples that were 12-inches deep and 6-inches apart where manure injection banding was in place was an accurate substitution for Pre-sidedress Nitrate Testing compared to soils with surface broadcasted nitrogen.

What did we do?

In the current research, N measurements were taken at several distances from the manure band center and analyzed at depths of 0-6 inches and 6-12 inches. Measures in manure plots were collected at five different dates through each of two growing seasons (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Current research explored nitrogen distribution through 5 dates in the growing season to develop both a spatial and temporal appreciation of nitrate distribution and efficiencies.
Figure 2. Current research explored nitrogen distribution through 5 dates in the growing season to develop both a spatial and temporal appreciation of nitrate distribution and efficiencies.

What have we learned?

Results show that N concentrations ‘peak’ in the region immediately near the injection band early in the season and then flatten through the season. A comparison of the top 6-inch samples with average of the both sampling depths indicate that the top 6 inches may be predictive of the entire 12-inch depth. This presentation will provide results and trends observed in N movement from injection bands in these soil plots.

Authors

Robert Meinen, Senior Extension Associate, Department of Animal Science, The Pennsylvania State University, rjm134@psu.edu

 

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Sidedressing Corn: Swine Manure via Dragline Hose Produces Yields Comparable to Synthetic Fertilizer

Spring in the upper Midwest can be short, resulting in challenges for producers to apply manure and plant crops in a timely manner to maximize yield. This results in a significant       amount of manure applied in the fall after the crop is harvested. Fall applied manure has ample time to mineralize and leave the root zone before next season’s crop can utilize the nutrients. These nutrients can end up in rivers and other freshwater bodies decreasing water quality. Sidedressing manure in growing crops could provide producers with another window of opportunity to apply their manure, maximize nutrient uptake efficiency, and protect water quality. The summer of 2018 was the start of a two-year, on-farm study researching the effectiveness of sidedressing slurry swine manure to corn via dragline hose. The swine manure was compared to sidedressed anhydrous ammonia, 32% urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), and a  control that received no additional nitrogen at the time of sidedressing.

What we did

Corn was planted May 7th with a 12-row planter equipped to apply an in-furrow and top dressed liquid fertilizer. The total fertilizer applied at planting was 40.7 lbs of nitrogen (N), 19.8 lbs of P2O5 phosphorus (P), and 14.4 lbs of sulfur (S) per acre.

Sidedressing the nitrogen sources

We sidedressed all treatments on June 4-5 with 140 pounds of available N, except the control which had no additional N applied. All the equipment applied nutrients between 30-inch rows and fit a 12-row planter to match up on odd rows.

  • Anhydrous ammonia treatment = 12-row toolbar and tractor were supplied by the farmer.
  • Finishing hog manure dragline hose treatment = The toolbar for the dragline hose sidedress was supplied by Bazooka Farmstar. The toolbar is a coulter till 28-foot bar with 30-inch spacing.
  • UAN treatment = The tool bar for the UAN sidedress application was provided by a local farmer.
  • Control treatment = The control treatment did not receive any fertilizer at sidedress.
Swine manure slurry being applied via dragline hose and Bazooka Farmstar sidedress bar.
Swine manure slurry being applied via dragline hose and Bazooka Farmstar sidedress bar.

Soil data collection methods

Soil nitrate and ammonium samples were taken 5 times through the growing season, approximately every 4 weeks, to track nitrogen in the soil profile. Soil sample depths were 0-6, 6-12, and 12-24 inches from the soil surface. Soil

Two foot soil sampling with tractor probe.
Two foot soil sampling with tractor probe.

samples were taken from the middle of the interrow, 7.5 inches from both sides of the middle of the inter row and in the middle of the row. This sample method assured soil samples would be representative of the soil profile since banded fertilizer can skew results.

Yield data collection methods

Yield was harvested October 6th by a combine with a 6-row head. The combine took the middle 12 rows of the 24-row treatment reducing the side effects from neighboring treatments. A calibrated weigh wagon measured the weight of each combine pass which was calculated to find yield in bushels per acre for every sample.

What we have learned

First year data revealed all sidedressed nitrogen sources significantly increased corn yields over the control but were otherwise statistically similar (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Yield data from 2018 manure sidedress trial in bushels per acre. AA=anhydrous ammonia, UAN=urea ammonium nitrate, Control=received no additional N at sidedress, and Dragline=swine manure slurry applied via dragline hose.
Figure 1. Yield data from 2018 manure sidedress trial in bushels per acre. AA=anhydrous ammonia, UAN=urea ammonium nitrate, Control=received no additional N at sidedress, and Dragline=swine manure slurry applied via dragline hose.

When we analyzed the soil inorganic nitrogen by each date differently, nitrogen concentrations between treatments were only statistically different on the soil sample date of June 15th (Figure 2) This soil sample date was ten days after the sidedress application on June 4th.  All other soil nitrogen sample dates are not statistically different between treatments and even the control.  

Figure 2. Total soil inorganic N (ammonium and nitrate) by treatment and sample date.
Figure 2. Total soil inorganic N (ammonium and nitrate) by treatment and sample date.

Statistics have not yet been run on the whole plant nitrogen content data in the graph below but numerically there doesn’t seem to be a difference in nitrogen content between the three sidedress treatments but a difference from the control (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Percent nitrogen in harvest grain, R6 cobbs, and R6 stover between treatments.
Figure 3. Percent nitrogen in harvest grain, R6 cobbs, and R6 stover between treatments.

Future plans

The first year of data was collected during the 2018 growing season and a second year of data will be collected in the summer of 2019. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of sidedressed swine manure slurry compared to traditionally used synthetic fertilizers. Since we have seen promising results this first year an additional study that could follow this experiment would be a direct comparison of fall applied swine manure and sidedressed swine manure. This information would help us understand the efficiency of sidedressing compared to fall application. Soil samples from this study would also illustrate the difference in mineralization and nitrogen movement between fall-applied and sidedressed swine manure slurry.    

Authors

  • Chris Pfarr, M.S. student in the Land and Atmospheric Sciences Program, University of Minnesota, pfarr025@umn.edu
  • Melissa Wilson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota, mlw@umn.edu

Additional information

Acknowledgements  

This project was partially funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Pork Board.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycling Efficiency in US Food Supply Chains – A National Mass-Balance Approach


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Purpose 

Assessing and improving the sustainability of livestock production systems is essential to secure future food production. Crop-livestock production systems continue to impact nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles with repercussions for human health (e.g. secondary particle formation due to ammonia emission and drinking water contamination by nitrate) and the environment (e.g. eutrophication of lakes and coastal waters and exacerbation of hypoxic zones). Additionally, P is a limited resource, and sustaining an adequate P supply is a major emerging challenge. To develop strategies for a more sustainable use of N and P, it is essential to have a quantitative understanding of the flows and stocks of N and P within the society. In this study, we developed detailed national N and P budgets to assess nutrient cycling efficiency in US (livestock) food supply chains, to identify hotspots of nutrient loss and to indicate opportunities for improvement!

What did we do? 

1. National nutrient mass-balance

A mass-balance framework was developed to quantify nutrient flows within the US. In this framework, the national US system is represented by 9 major sectors are relevant in terms of nutrient flows: mining (relevant for P only), industrial production, agriculture, food & feed processing industry, retail, households and other consumers, energy and transport, humans, and waste treatment. These sectors can exist of several sub-sectors. For example, the agricultural sector consists of several secondary sub-systems including pasture, agricultural soil, livestock and manure management (WMS – waste management system).

Different livestock categories can have distinct environmental impacts and nutrient use efficiencies (e.g. (Hou et al. 2016), (Eshel et al. 2014), (Herrero et al. 2013)), we therefore distinguish six livestock categories (dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry (meat), poultry (layers), sheep, hogs) and

 their associated food commodities (dairy products, beef from dairy cattle, beef, poultry, eggs, lamb, pork).

For each sub-system, we identify and quantify major flows to and from this compartment. All flows are expressed in a common unit, i.e. metric kiloton N per year (kt N/yr) for nitrogen and metric kiloton P per year (kt P/yr) for phosphorus. Quantified flows include nutrient related emissions to the environment and waste flows.

At present, the waste sectors and environmental compartment are outside the system boundaries, that is, we quantify flows to these compartments, but we do not attempt to balance these sectors. We do, however, keep track of the exact chemical species (e.g. emission of N2O-N to air instead of N to air) emitted as far as possible. The municipal waste treatment (MSW) and municipal waste water treatment (WWTP) are treated in more detail: major flows from and to these compartments are quantified. These sub-sectors are treated in more detail because of their role in nutrient recycling through e.g. sewage sludge application on agricultural soils.

Data were collected in priority from national statistics (e.g. USDA NASS for livestock population) and peer-reviewed literature, and were supplemented with information from industrial reports and extension files if needed. If available, data were collected for the years 2009 to 2012 and averaged, when unavailable, we collected data for the closest year.

2. Scenario analysis

In the scenario analysis, we test the opportunity for dairy livestock production systems to contribute to a more efficient nutrient use through anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and organic food waste. Recently, Informa Economics assessed the national

 market potential of anaerobic digester products for the dairy industry (Informa Economics 2013). Next to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and organic food waste can contribute to improve nutrient cycling efficiency (Informa Economics 2013). Dairy manure contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be used as a natural crop fertilizer, if recuperated from manure. Presently, non-farm organic substrates such as food waste are typically disposed of in landfills, which causes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and also results in a permanent removal of valuable nutrients from the food supply chain (Informa Economics 2013). By anaerobic co-digestion, a part of the nutrien! ts contai ned in dairy manure and food waste can be recovered. These nutrients can be used to fertilize crops and substitute synthetic fertilizer application. In the scenario analysis, we test to what extent anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and food waste can contribute to improve nutrient cycling efficiency, particularly by substituting synthetic fertilizers. We develop the scenario based on data provided in the InformaEconomics report.

What have we learned? 

In general, our results show that livestock production is the least efficient part of the total food supply chain with large losses associated with manure management and manure and fertilizer application to crops. In absolute terms, the contribution of the household stage to total and N and P losses from the system is small, approximately 5 and 7% for N and P, respectively. However, households ‘waste’ a relatively large percentage of purchased products, (e.g. 16% and 18% of N and P in dairy products end up as food waste), which presents an opportunity for improvement. A scenario was developed to test to what extent anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and food waste can contribute to improving nutrient cycling efficiency on a national scale. Results suggest that 22% and 63% of N and P applied as synthetic fertilizer could potentially be avoided in dairy food supply chains by large scale implementation of anaerobic co-digestion o! f manure and food waste.

Future Plans     

Future research plans include a further development of scenarios that are known to reduce nutrient losses at the farm scale and to assess the impact of these scenarios on national nutrient flows and losses.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation        

Karin Veltman, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Corresponding author email    

veltmank@umich.edu

Other authors    

Carolyn Mattick, Phd, Olivier Jolliet, Prof., Andrew Henderson, PhD.

Additional information                

Additional information can be obtained from the corresponding author: Karin Veltman, veltmank@umich.edu

Acknowledgements       

The authors wish to thank Ying Wang for her scientific support, particularly for her contribution in developing the anaerobic co-digestion scenario.

This work was financially supported by the US Dairy Research Institute.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Nutrient Leaching Under Manure Staging and Sludge-Drying Areas

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Purpose

Even well managed lagoons need to have sludge removed periodically. Hauling of sludge is expensive and time consuming. Drying of the sludge before hauling would greatly reduce the volume and therefore the number of trips required. This would result in both an economic and time savings. In Utah, sludge drying is currently not permitted due to the potential for groundwater contamination since it is considered a liquid.

What did we do?

Two studies examined leaching under sludge drying and manure staging areas. The first study compared the leachate under a sludge drying area (liquid manure), versus the leachate produced under a manure staging area (solid manure). Both treatments were placed in the field in July. The second study compared manure staging areas with manure placed at three different times (November, January, and March) and two different bedding materials (straw, no straw).

Leachate was collected by means of zero-tension lysimeters installed under the sludge drying and manure staging areas and analyzed for ammonium nitrogen using Method 10-107-06-2-O and nitrate nitrogen using Method: 10-107-04-1-C on a Lachat FIA analyzer. Soil samples were taken to a depth of 90 cm and analyzed for nitrate nitrogen using Method 12-107-04-1-F on a Lachat FIA analyzer.

Graph of leachate collected by manure type in 2015 and 2016 with straw and with no straw
Total leachate collected under winter manure staging areas by manure type.

Graph of leachate collected by placement time in 2015 and 2016
Total leachate collected under winter manure staging areas by placement time.

What have we learned?

The sludge dried in 8-10 weeks. Observed volume reduction for the July applications was 81.1% and 35.7% for the sludge and manure piles, respectively. Leachate under the sludge drying areas tended to seal off quickly producing little leachate after the initial leaching event. Likewise, there was little leachate under the manure staging piles placed in July. Significant leachate was produced under the manure staging piles placed during the winter months, with the manure with no straw (sand bedding) producing more leachate than the manure with straw (straw bedding). Preliminary results indicate that sludge drying produces less leachate than a manure staging area placed at the same time, and much less leachate than manure staging areas placed during the winter months.

Future Plans

We plan to continue this study and report the findings to the Utah Division of Water Quality. The results of this study and another study examining sludge drying in southern Utah will likely be used to revisit the decision as to whether or not sludge-drying should be allowed in Utah.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Rhonda Miller, Ph.D.

Corresponding author email

rhonda.miller@usu.edu

Other authors

Mike Jensen, Trevor Nielson, Jennifer Long

Additional information

Website: http://agwastemanagement.usu.edu

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge support from Utah State University Experiment Station.

Cultivation of Duckweed on Anaerobically Digested Dairy Manure for Nitrogen and Phosphorus Removal

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Purpose

The purpose of this research included identifying the optimum cultivation conditions of five different strains of duckweed while evaluating the nutrient uptake of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in anaerobically digested dairy manure to promote biomass production.

What did we do?

The growth of duckweed was assessed on the cultivation parameters of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, light intensity, nutrient concentrations, and biomass production. Three strains, namely Landoltia punctata, Lemna gibba and Lemna minuta, were identified as the promising candidates for their high levels of nutrient uptake and biomass production. The temperature and light intensity were maintained in an environmental chamber at 25°C and 10,000 lux, respectively. The nutrient uptake through duckweed cultivation, characterized by the changes of total nitrogen (TN), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), and total phosphorus (TP), was assessed on the anaerobically digested dairy manure in three dilution ratios i.e., 1:13, 1:18, and 1:27 by volume.

What have we learned?

In the dilution ratios 1:18 and 1:27 all duckweed strains grew successfully. However, in dilution ratio 1:13 all three duckweed species were inhibited by the high nutrient concentration. The batch system created an aerobic environment within the anaerobically digested dairy manure medium with a dissolved oxygen content of 2-6 mg/L. At the high light intensity of 10,000 (lux) a buffer was needed in order to keep the medium’s pH constant to promote duckweed growth. This research compared the nutrient reduction of the microbial growth within the anaerobically digested dairy manure and a standard solution of 1.6 g/L of Hoagland E-medium to the nutrient reduction from the three strains of duckweed at the dilution ratios of 1:13, 1:18, and 1:27. Experimental results revealed that the average duckweed productivities were 1.50, 1.30 and 0.50 grams per square foot per day for Landoltia punctata, Lemna gibba, and Lemna minuta, respectively. At the dilution ratio of 1:27 the highest significant reductions came from Landoltia punctata at 86.0% for TN, 87.5% for TKN, and a TP of 89.5%. At the dilution ratio of 1:18 Lemna gibba got the next highest at 83.8% for TN, 85.6% for TKN, and a TP of 76.2%. Lemna minuta came in last with the highest nutrient reductions in dilution ratio 1:18 with 83.1% for TN, 84.7% for TKN, and a TP of 76.5%. A light intensity of 10,000 lux, pH of 6.5, a temperature of 25°C and a dilution ratio of 1:27 promoted active duckweed growth on anaerobically digested dairy manure.

Future Plans

We will continue the duckweed cultivation work to optimize manure nutrient uptake and to convert duckweed biomass into bioethanol.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Lide Chen, Assistant Professor/Waste Management Engineer, University of Idaho

Corresponding author email

lchen@uidaho.edu

Other authors

Kevin Kruger (University of Idaho)

Additional information

Kevin Kruger is a graduate student who conducted the duckweed cultivation tests.

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the USDA NIFA and Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station.

Poultry Mortality Freezer Units: Better BMP, Better Biosecurity, Better Bottom Line.

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Purpose

Why Tackle Mortality Management?  It’s Ripe for Revolution.

The poultry industry has enjoyed a long run of technological and scientific advancements that have led to improvements in quality and efficiency.  To ensure its hard-won prosperity continues into the future, the industry has rightly shifted its focus to sustainability.  For example, much money and effort has been expended on developing better management methods and alternative uses/destinations for poultry litter.

In contrast, little effort or money has been expended to improve routine mortality management – arguably one of the most critical aspects of every poultry operation.  In many poultry producing areas of the country, mortality management methods have not changed in decades – not since the industry was forced to shift from the longstanding practice of pit burial.  Often that shift was to composting (with mixed results at best).  For several reasons – improved biosecurity being the most important/immediate – it’s time that the industry shift again.

The shift, however, doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, i.e., mortality management can be revolutionized without developing anything revolutionary.  In fact, the mortality management practice of the future owes its existence in part to a technology that was patented exactly 20 years ago by Tyson Foods – large freezer containers designed for storing routine/daily mortality on each individual farm until the containers are later emptied and the material is hauled off the farm for disposal.

Despite having been around for two decades, the practice of using on-farm freezer units has received almost no attention.  Little has been done to promote the practice or to study or improve on the original concept, which is a shame given the increasing focus on two of its biggest advantages – biosecurity and nutrient management.

Dusting off this old BMP for a closer look has been the focus of our work – and with promising results.  The benefits of hitting the reset button on this practice couldn’t be more clear:

  1. Greatly improved biosecurity for the individual grower when compared to traditional composting;
  2. Improved biosecurity for the entire industry as more individual farms switch from composting to freezing, reducing the likelihood of wider outbreaks;
  3. Reduced operational costs for the individual poultry farm as compared to more labor-intensive practices, such as composting;
  4. Greatly reduced environmental impact as compared to other BMPs that require land application as a second step, including composting, bio-digestion and incineration; and
  5. Improved quality of life for the grower, the grower’s family and the grower’s neighbors when compared to other BMPs, such as composting and incineration.

What Did We Do?

We basically took a fresh look at all aspects of this “old” BMP, and shared our findings with various audiences.

That work included:

  1. Direct testing with our own equipment on our own poultry farm regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors,
    2. Freezer unit capacity,
    3. Power consumption, and
    4. Operational/maintenance aspects;
  2. Field trials on two pilot project farms over two years regarding
    1. Freezer unit capacity
    2. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors,
    3. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors,
    4. Operational and collection/hauling aspects;
  3. Performing literature reviews and interviews regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
    2. Pathogen/disease transmission,
    3. Biosecurity measures
    4. Nutrient management comparisons
    5. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
  4. Ensuring the results of the above topics/tests were communicated to
    1. Growers
    2. Integrators
    3. Legislators
    4. Environmental groups
    5. Funding agencies (state and federal)
    6. Veterinary agencies (state and federal)

What Have We Learned?

The breadth of the work at times limited the depth of any one topic’s exploration, but here is an overview of our findings:

  1. Direct testing with our own equipment on our own poultry farm regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. Farm visitation by scavenger animals, including buzzards/vultures, raccoons, foxes and feral cats, that previously dined in the composting shed daily slowly decreased and then stopped entirely about three weeks after the farm converted to freezer units.
      2. The fly population was dramatically reduced after the farm converted from composting to freezer units.  [Reduction was estimated at 80%-90%.]
    2. Freezer unit capacity
      1. The test units were carefully filled on a daily basis to replicate the size and amount of deadstock generated over the course of a full farm’s grow-out cycle.
      2. The capacity tests were repeated over several flocks to ensure we had accurate numbers for creating a capacity calculator/matrix, which has since been adopted by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to determine the correct number of units per farm based on flock size and finish bird weight (or number of grow-out days) in connection with the agency’s cost-share program.
    3. Power consumption
      1. Power consumption was recorded daily over several flocks and under several conditions, e.g., during all four seasons and under cover versus outside and unprotected from the elements.
      2. Energy costs were higher for uncovered units and obviously varied depending on the season, but the average cost to power one unit is only 90 cents a day.  The total cost of power for the average farm (all four units) is only $92 per flock.  (See additional information for supporting documentation and charts.)
    4. Operational/maintenance aspects;
      1. It was determined that the benefits of installing the units under cover (e.g., inside a small shed or retrofitted bin composter) with a winch system to assist with emptying the units greatly outweighed the additional infrastructure costs.
      2. This greatly reduced wear and tear on the freezer component of the system during emptying, eliminated clogging of the removable filter component, as well as provided enhanced access to the unit for periodic cleaning/maintenance by a refrigeration professional.
  2. Field trials on two pilot project farms over two years regarding
    1. Freezer unit capacity
      1. After tracking two years of full farm collection/hauling data, we were able to increase the per unit capacity number in the calculator/matrix from 1,500 lbs. to 1,800 lbs., thereby reducing the number of units required per farm to satisfy that farm’s capacity needs.
    2. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
      1. Both farms reported improved quality of life, largely thanks to the elimination or reduction of animals, insects and smells associated with composting.
    3. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. Both farms reported elimination or reduction of the scavenging animals and disease-carrying insects commonly associated with composting.
    4. Operational and collection/hauling aspects
      1. With the benefit of two years of actual use in the field, we entirely re-designed the sheds used for housing the freezer units.
      2. The biggest improvements were created by turning the units so they faced each other rather than all lined up side-by-side facing outward.  (See additional information for supporting documentation and diagrams.)  This change then meant that the grower went inside the shed (and out of the elements) to load the units.  This change also provided direct access to the fork pockets, allowing for quicker emptying and replacement with a forklift.
  3. Performing literature reviews and interviews regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. More research confirming the connection between farm visitation by scavenger animals and the use of composting was recently published by the USDA National Wildlife Research Center:
        1. “Certain wildlife species may become habituated to anthropogenically modified habitats, especially those associated with abundant food resources.  Such behavior, at least in the context of multiple farms, could facilitate the movement of IAV from farm to farm if a mammal were to become infected at one farm and then travel to a second location.  …  As such, the potential intrusion of select peridomestic mammals into poultry facilities should be accounted for in biosecurity plans.”
        2. Root, J. J. et al. When fur and feather occur together: interclass transmission of avian influenza A virus from mammals to birds through common resources. Sci. Rep. 5, 14354; doi:10.1038/ srep14354 (2015) at page 6 (internal citations omitted; emphasis added).
    2. Pathogen/disease transmission,
      1. Animals and insects have long been known to be carriers of dozens of pathogens harmful to poultry – and to people.  Recently, however, the USDA National Wildlife Research Center demonstrated conclusively that mammals are not only carriers – they also can transmit avian influenza virus to birds.
        1. The study’s conclusion is particularly troubling given the number and variety of mammals and other animals that routinely visit composting sheds as demonstrated by our research using a game camera.  These same animals also routinely visit nearby waterways and other poultry farms increasing the likelihood of cross-contamination, as explained in this the video titled Farm Freezer Biosecurity Benefits.
        2. “When wildlife and poultry interact and both can carry and spread a potentially damaging agricultural pathogen, it’s cause for concern,” said research wildlife biologist Dr. Jeff Root, one of several researchers from the National Wildlife Research Center, part of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services program, studying the role wild mammals may play in the spread of avian influenza viruses.
    3. Biosecurity measures
      1. Every day the grower collects routine mortality and stores it inside large freezer units. After the broiler flock is caught and processed, but before the next flock is started – i.e. when no live birds are present,  a customized truck and forklift empty the freezer units and hauls away the deadstock.  During this 10- to 20- day window between flocks biosecurity is relaxed and dozens of visitors (feed trucks, litter brokers, mortality collection) are on site in preparation for the next flock.
        1. “Access will change after a production cycle,” according to a biosecurity best practices document (enclosed) from Iowa State University. “Empty buildings are temporarily considered outside of the [protected area and even] the Line of Separation is temporarily removed because there are no birds in the barn.”
    4. Nutrient management comparisons
      1. Research provided by retired extension agent Bud Malone (enclosed) provided us with the opportunity to calculate nitrogen and phosphorous numbers for on-farm mortality, and therefore, the amount of those nutrients that can be diverted from land application through the use of freezer units instead of composting.
      2. The research (contained in an enclosed presentation) also provided a comparison of the cost-effectiveness of various nutrient management BMPs – and a finding that freezing and recycling is about 90% more efficient than the average of all other ag BMPs in reducing phosphorous.
    5. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
      1. Local and county governments in several states have been compiling a lot of research on the various approaches for ensuring farmers and their residential neighbors can coexist peacefully.
      2. Many of the complaints have focused on the unwanted scavenger animals, including buzzards/vultures, raccoons, foxes and feral cats, as well as the smells associated with composting.
      3. The concept of utilizing sealed freezer collection units to eliminate the smells and animals associated with composting is being considered by some government agencies as an alternative to instituting deeper and deeper setbacks from property lines, which make farming operations more difficult and costly.

Future Plans

We see more work on three fronts:

  • First, we’ll continue to do monitoring and testing locally so that we may add another year or two of data to the time frames utilized initially.
  • Second, we are actively working to develop new more profitable uses for the deadstock (alternatives to rendering) that could one day further reduce the cost of mortality management for the grower.
  • Lastly, as two of the biggest advantages of this practice – biosecurity and nutrient management – garner more attention nationwide, our hope would be to see more thorough university-level research into each of the otherwise disparate topics that we were forced to cobble together to develop a broad, initial understanding of this BMP.

Corresponding author (name, title, affiliation)

Victor Clark, Co-Founder & Vice President, Legal and Government Affairs, Farm Freezers LLC and Greener Solutions LLC

Corresponding author email address

victor@farmfreezers.com

Other Authors

Terry Baker, Co-Founder & President, Farm Freezers LLC and Greener Solutions LLC

Additional Information

https://rendermagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Render_Oct16.pdf

Farm Freezer Biosecurity Benefits

One Night in a Composting Shed

www.farmfreezers.com

Transmission Pathways

Avian flu conditions still evolving (editorial)

USDA NRCS Conservation fact sheet Poultry Freezers

Nature.com When fur and feather occur together: interclass transmission of avian influenza A virus from mammals to birds through common resources

How Does It Work? (on-farm freezing)

Influenza infections in wild raccoons (CDC)

Collection Shed Unit specifications

Collection Unit specifications

Freezing vs Composting for Biosecurity (Render magazine)

Manure and spent litter management: HPAI biosecurity (Iowa State University)

Acknowledgements

Bud Malone, retired University of Delaware Extension poultry specialist and owner of Malone Poultry Consulting

Bill Brown, University of Delaware Extension poultry specialist, poultry grower and Delmarva Poultry Industry board member

Delaware Department of Agriculture

Delaware Nutrient Management Commission

Delaware Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Maryland Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Nutrient Cycling in Horse Pastures


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Purpose 

This presentation will review the existing multi-species literature on nutrient cycling and how it is affected by the horse’s diet and rotational grazing.

Grazed pastures, particularly rotationally grazed pastures, recycle nutrients faster than ungrazed pastures. Nutrients on pasture land enter through animal waste, and waste feed or fertilizer; they leave through removal of forage, leaching/runoff, or animal product/waste removal. Taking away the animal component removes about half of the inputs needed to recycle the nutrients. Dietary nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are required for basic maintenance of horses; however, not all of what is consumed is used by the animal, therefore the dietary concentrations of these nutrients will impact the nutrient cycling. Digestibility of N, P and K in horses is approximately 80, 25 and 75 %, respectively. What does not get digested will end up excreted back into the soil.

What did we do? 

For example, in one study eight Standardbred mares were divided into two groups and received diets of grass hay and grain. The high P (HP) group received 142 g/d of NaH2PO4, formulated to provide 4.5-times the dietary P requirement, or 65 g phosphorus/d. The low P (LP) group received 28 g of phosphorus/d in the basal diet. Data showed that horses receiving the HP diet excreted higher P and water extractable P in the manure than those fed the LP diet (Table 1; Westendorf and Williams, 2015). The same goes for N, where one study used a treatment group that was supplemented with 700 g/d of soybean meal top dressed on 500 g of sweet feed per day (TRT; 1042 g protein/d DM total), while the control group received the sweet feed meals without the soybean meal (CON; 703 g protein/d total). Both groups were also fed 8 kg/d of a grass hay mix (562 g protein /d DM), water and salt ad libitum. Horses fed the TRT diet excreted more N and NH3 than horses fed the CON diet (Figure 1; Williams et al., 2011).

Nutrient Cycling in horse pastures: Tables and Figures

What have we learned? 

More intensive grazing also creates an increased rate of nutrient cycling due to the added animal inputs on the land. Even though no horse related studies have been performed on this topic studies in cattle have found that plant-available N levels doubled when cattle were rotationally grazed with five grazings per season instead of three (Baron et al., 2002). Kenny (2016) looked at horses grazed under either a continuous or rotational grazing system (see Pictures 1 and 2, Left to Right, respectively) and found no differences in system after one year of grazing, however, the author concludes that more time on the system could have generated differences.

Other factors that affect the rate of nutrient cycling include amount of legumes in the pasture, distribution of manure on pastures (i.e. relation to water, shelters and fencing), and use or rates of fertilizer.

 

Horse in pastureRotational grazing horse

Future Plans    

More equine specific studies need to be performed looking at how grazing systems and equine diets affect nutrient cycling and how horse farm owners can utilize this to best manage their farm for optimal nutrient utilization.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation        

Carey A. Williams, Equine Extension Specialist, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Department of Animal Science

Corresponding author email    

carey.williams@rutgers.edu

Additional information 

References:

Baron, V. S., E. Mapfumo, A. C. Dick, M. A. Naeth, E. K. Okine, and D. S. Chanasyk. 2002. Grazing intensity impacts on pasture carbon and nitrogen flow. J. Range Manage. 55:525-541.

Kenny, L. B. 2016. The Effects of Rotational and Continuous Grazing on Horses, Pasture Condition, and Soil Properties. Master thesis, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.

Westendorf, M. L., and C. A. Williams. 2015. Effects of excess dietary phosphorus on fecal phosphorus excretion and water extractable phosphorus in horses. J. Equine Vet. Sci. 35:495-498. doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2015.01.020

Williams, C. A., C. Urban, and M. L. Westendorf. 2011. Dietary protein affects nitrogen and ammonia excretion in horses. J. Equine Vet. Sci. 31:305-306.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

The Value of Cover Crops in Dairy Production Systems


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Purpose           

The purpose of this research was to identify trade-offs among soil erosion, soil health, and crop production when using cover crops with manure application.Continuous corn silage cropping systems in Wisconsin leads to overall removal of N from the system unless manure is applied. However, this cropping system allows for the planting of cover crops or a winter silage crop post harvest, which may lead to increases in soil N over time. Cover crops are valuable in these corn-silage based rotations as they also provide ground cover after harvest and can reduce N leaching after fall manure application. 

What did we do? 

The cropping system investigated was a continuous corn silage system with fall manure application. The experiment was a randomized complete block split-plot design where the whole plot treatments were no cover, rye as a cover (chemically terminated) or as a forage (harvested) crop and the split plot treatment was depth.The objective of this study was to determine the effect of cover cropping on potentially mineralizable nitrogen (PMN) over a growing season using a 7-day anaerobic incubation (2015 and 2016 season), a long-term aerobic incubation (2015 season), and N uptake by corn. 

What have we learned? 

There were no statistical differences in short-term PMN among cover crop treatments at any time point in 2015 or 2016. However, the cover crop treatments led to a yield reduction compared to no cover crop use in both years. Thus, our study showed significant effects of cover cropping on agronomic factors like corn yield and N uptake but these same differences were not measurable in the soil N.

Future Plans    

This work will continue to evaluate the long-term effects of cover crop use on soil health.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation       

Matthew Ruark, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Corresponding author email 

mdruark@wisc.edu

Other authors   

Jaimie West, Kavya Khrishnan, Kevin Shelley

Additional information          

ruarklab.soils.wisc.edu

extension.soils.wisc.edu

Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2013-68002-20525. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.