Methane and carbon dioxide emissions and nitrogen turnover during liquid manure storage
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Animal slurry stored in-house and outside is a significant source of atmospheric methane (CH4). The CH4 source strength of stored slurry is greatly affected by temperature. To improve emission calculations on a global scale there is a need for knowledge about the relationship between production of CH4 in slurry and temperature. In this study, the filling of slurry channels was reproduced in the laboratory by gradually filling 1 m-high PVC vessels during 9 days followed by incubation for 100–200 days. A preliminary test showed that little CH4 was produced from animal slurry during 10 days of incubation at 20°C, if no inoculum (slurry incubated anaerobically at the test temperature for 1.5–2 months) was present. However, the addition of 7.6% inoculum supported an immediate production of CH4. Vessels amended with inoculum and gradually filled with cattle or pig slurry were then incubated at 10, 15 and 20°C. Methane production from stored pig and cattle slurry was not significant at temperatures below 15°C, where CO2 was the main product of decomposition processes. In contrast, the anaerobic production of CH4 was high and significant relative to the production of CO2 at 20°C. Peak emissions of CH4 averaging 0.012 and 0.02 g C h−1 kg−1 volatile solids (VS) were reached within about 10 days at 10 and 15°C, respectively. At 20°C, the emission of CH4 from pig slurry was about 0.01 g C h−1 kg−1 for 10 days, and thereafter emissions increased to about 0.10 g C h−1 kg−1 VS. For cattle slurry a peak emission of 0.08 g C h−1 kg−1 VS was measured after 180 days. Degradation of organic nitrogen (N) in cattle slurry was related to the reduction of organic material as reflected in CO2 and CH4 emission. The mineralization of organic N during storage represented 10–80% of organic N in cattle slurry, and 40–80% of the organic N in pig slurry.