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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Fresh, Stockpiled, and Composted Beef Cattle Feedlot Manure


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 5, p. 1844-1854
    Received: Nov 23, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): larneyf@agr.gc.ca
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  1. Francis J. Larney *a,
  2. Katherine E. Buckleyb,
  3. Xiying Haoa and
  4. W. Paul McCaugheyb
  1. a Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, 5403 1st Avenue South, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1J 4B1
    b Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, P.O. Box 1000A, Brandon, MB, Canada R7A 5Y3


The fate of manure nutrients in beef cattle (Bos taurus) feedlots is influenced by handling treatment, yet few data are available in western Canada comparing traditional practices (fresh handling, stockpiling) with newer ones (composting). This study examined the influence of handling treatment (fresh, stockpiled, or composted) on nutrient levels and mass balance estimates of feedlot manure at Lethbridge, Alberta, and Brandon, Manitoba. Total carbon (TC) concentration of compost (161 kg Mg−1) was lower (P < 0.001) than stockpiled (248 kg Mg−1), which was in turn lower (P < 0.001) than fresh manure (314 kg Mg−1). Total nitrogen (TN) concentration was not affected by handling treatment while total phosphorus (TP) concentration increased with composting at Lethbridge. The percent inorganic nitrogen (PIN) was lower (P < 0.01) for compost (5.1%) than both fresh (24.7%) and stockpiled (28.9%) manure. Composting led to higher (P < 0.05) dry matter (DM) losses (39.8%) compared to stockpiling (22.5%) and higher (P < 0.05) total mass (water + DM) losses (65.6 vs. 35.2%). Carbon (C) losses were higher (P < 0.01) with composting (66.9% of initial) than with stockpiling (37.5%), as were nitrogen (N) losses (46.3 vs. 22.5%, P < 0.05). Composting allowed transport of two times as much P as fresh manure and 1.4 times as much P as stockpiled manure (P < 0.001) on an “as is” basis. Our study looked at one aspect of manure management (i.e., handling treatment effects on nutrient concentrations and mass balance estimates) and, as such, should be viewed as one component in the larger context of a life cycle assessment.

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