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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 2, p. 376-386
    Received: May 17, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): haoxy@em.agr.ca
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Greenhouse Gas Emissions during Cattle Feedlot Manure Composting

  1. Xiying Hao *,
  2. Chi Chang,
  3. Francis J. Larney and
  4. Greg R. Travis
  1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, P.O. Box 3000, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1J 4B1


The emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) during feedlot manure composting reduces the agronomic value of the final compost and increases the greenhouse effect A study was conducted to determine whether GHG emissions are affected by composting method. Feedlot cattle manure was composted with two aeration methods—passive (no turning) and active (turned six times). Carbon lost in the forms of CO2 and CH4 was 73.8 and 6.3 kg C Mg−1 manure for the passive aeration treatment and 168.0 and 8.1 kg C Mg−1 manure for the active treatment. The N loss in the form of N2O was 0.11 and 0.19 kg N Mg−1 manure for the passive and active treatments. Fuel consumption to turn and maintain the windrow added a further 4.4 kg C Mg−1 manure for the active aeration treatment. Since CH4 and N2O are 21 and 310 times more harmful than CO2 in their global warming effect, the total GHG emission expressed as CO2–C equivalent was 240.2 and 401.4 kg C Mg−1 manure for passive and active aeration. The lower emission associated with the passive treatment was mainly due to the incomplete decomposition of manure and a lower gas diffusion rate. In addition, turning affected N transformation and transport in the windrow profile, which contributed to higher N2O emissions for the active aeration treatment. Gas diffusion is an important factor controlling GHG emissions. Higher GHG concentrations in compost windrows do not necessarily mean higher production or emission rates.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:376–386.