Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 93, Issue 2, pp 163–200 | Cite as

Manure-DNDC: a biogeochemical process model for quantifying greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from livestock manure systems

  • Changsheng LiEmail author
  • William Salas
  • Ruihong Zhang
  • Charley Krauter
  • Al Rotz
  • Frank Mitloehner
Original Article


From the point of view of biogeochemistry, manure is a complex of organic matter containing minor minerals. When manure is excreted by animals, it undergoes a series of reactions such as decomposition, hydrolysis, ammonia volatilization, nitrification, denitrification, fermentation etc., from which carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) can be produced. Based on the principles of thermodynamics and reaction kinetics, these reactions are commonly controlled by a group of environmental factors such as temperature, moisture, redox potential, pH, substrate concentration gradient etc. The relations among the environmental factors, the reactions and the gas production have been incorporated in a process-based model, Manure-DNDC, to describe manure organic matter turnover and gas emissions. Using Manure-DNDC, the users can construct a virtual farm by selecting and integrating one or more of the candidate farm facilities (i.e., feedlot, compost, lagoon, anaerobic digester and cropping field) parameterized in the model. Manure-DNDC calculates variations of the environmental factors for each component facility based on its technical specifications, and then utilizes the environmental factors to drive the biogeochemical reactions. To verify the applicability of Manure-DNDC for livestock farms, seven datasets of air emissions measured from farms across the U.S. plus a Scotland pasture were utilized for model tests with encouraging results. A dairy farm in New York was used to assess the impacts of alternative management practices on the gas mitigation. The modeled results showed that a combination of changes in the feed quality, the lagoon coverage and the planted crop type could reduce greenhouse gas emission by 30 % and NH3 by 36 % at the farm scale.


Livestock operation systems Farm scale Manure life cycle Greenhouse gases Ammonia volatilization DNDC 



We thank the National Milk Producer Federation (NMPF), California Energy Commission, USDA National Research Institute (NRI) and the Dairy Research Institute for their financial support of the development of the Manure-DNDC model. Thanks are also given to A. Heber and R. Reed for providing field data for model evaluation. The preparation of this manuscript was partially supported by USDA NIFA project “Integrated resource management tool to mitigate the carbon footprint of swine produced in the U.S.”


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Changsheng Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • William Salas
    • 2
  • Ruihong Zhang
    • 3
  • Charley Krauter
    • 4
  • Al Rotz
    • 5
  • Frank Mitloehner
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Applied Geosolutions, LLCDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Biological and Agricultural Engineering DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  4. 4.Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and TechnologyCalifornia State UniversityFresnoUSA
  5. 5.USDA/Agricultural Research ServiceUniversity ParkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Animal ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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