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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Crusting of Stored Dairy Slurry to Abate Ammonia Emissions


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 2, p. 411-419
    Received: June 3, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): tom.misselbrook@bbsrc.ac.uk
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  1. Tom H. Misselbrook *a,
  2. Siobhan K. E. Brookmana,
  3. Ken A. Smithb,
  4. Trevor Cumbyc,
  5. Adrian G. Williamsc and
  6. Dan F. McCroryd
  1. a Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK
    b ADAS, Woodthorne, Wergs Road, Wolverhampton WV6 8TQ, UK
    c Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HS, UK
    d USDA-ARS, Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin, 1925 Linden Drive West, Madison, WI 53706


Storage of cattle slurry is a significant source of ammonia (NH3) emissions. Emissions can be reduced by covering slurry stores, but this can incur significant costs, as well as practical and technical difficulties. In this pilot-scale study, slurry was stored in small tanks (500 L) and the effectiveness of natural crust development for reducing NH3 emissions was assessed in a series of experiments. Also, factors important in crust development were investigated. Measurements were made of crust thickness and specially adapted tank lids were used to measure NH3 emissions. Slurry dry matter (DM) content was the most important factor influencing crust formation, with no crust formation on slurries with a DM content of <1%. Generally, crusts began to form within the first 10 to 20 d of storage, at which time NH3 emission rates would decrease. The formation of a natural crust reduced NH3 emissions by approximately 50%. The type of bedding used in the free stall barn did not influence crust formation, nor did ambient temperature or air-flow rate across the slurry surface. There was a large difference in crust formation between slurries from cattle fed a corn (Zea mays L.) silage–based diet and those fed a grass silage–based diet, although dietary differences were confounded with bedding differences. The inclusion of a corn starch and glucose additive promoted crust formation and reduced NH3 emission. The maintenance of a manageable crust on cattle slurry stores is recommended as a cost-effective means of abating NH3 emissions from this phase of slurry management.

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Copyright © 2005. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA