Nutrient losses from cattle co-digestate slurry during storage

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Francesca Perazzolo *
Gabriele Mattachini
Fulvia Tambone
Aldo Calcante
Giorgio Provolo
(*) Corresponding Author:
Francesca Perazzolo |


Among environmental issues related to intensive livestock activity, emissions to air from manure management are of increasing concern. Thus the knowledge of the effect of treatment application on subsequent emissions from manure is required to assess the environment impact of management solutions. This work addresses the effect of anaerobic digestion and phase separation on emissions during storage by studying nitrogen losses from lab-scale stores and field pilot-scale stores of a co-digestate cattle slurry and its respective separated fractions. Lab-scale experiment was carried in temperature-controlled room where each fraction (untreated, separated liquid and separated solid) was stored in duplicate for a period of 32 days in 30 L vessel. Pilot-scale experiment was carried out both during the cold season and during warm season for 90 days of storage. In both experimentations samples of the manure were analysed periodically for total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), total ammonia nitrogen, dry matter and volatile solids and pH. These analyses allow estimating nitrogen losses in different storage conditions. Effects of mechanical separation and season were assessed by ANOVA (Wilcoxon test, P<0.05). In temperature controlled conditions nitrogen losses measured account for 13% and 26% of TKN for unseparated and separated slurries respectively. In field conditions during cold season nutrient losses were limited. On average unseparated and separated slurries lost respectively 6.8% and 12.6% of their initial TKN content. Much higher were the TKN losses from the slurries examined in warm season where losses raised up to 40% of the initial TKN content. Generally mechanical separation increases nutrient losses, but the differences were not significant in field conditions. The results highlighted that nutrient losses, in particular the nitrogen ones, can be considerable especially during summer storage. The latter, in case of separated slurries, are mainly related to the liquid fraction, which is responsible for up 92% of the losses. When phase separation after anaerobic digestion is used, mitigation options, as covers or slurry acidification, are advisable in order to limit the negative environmental impact.

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