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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 38 No. 2, p. 576-586
    Received: Dec 12, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): Ariel.Szogi@ARS.USDA.GOV
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Removal of Phosphorus from Livestock Effluents

  1. Ariel A. Szogi * and
  2. Matias B. Vanotti
  1. USDA-ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center, 2611 W. Lucas St., Florence, SC 29501-1242. Mention of a specific product or vendor does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may be suitable


For removal of phosphorus (P) from swine liquid manure before land application, we developed a treatment process that produces low P effluents and a valuable P by-product with minimal chemical addition and ammonia losses. The new wastewater process included two sequential steps: (i) biological nitrification and (ii) increasing the pH of the nitrified wastewater to precipitate P. We hypothesized that by reduction of inorganic buffers (NH4 + and carbonate alkalinity) via nitrification, P could be selectively removed by subsequent hydrated lime [Ca(OH)2] addition. The objective of the study was to assess if this new treatment could consistently reduce inorganic buffer capacity with varied initial concentrations of N (100–723 mg NH4 + L−1), P (26–85 mg TP L−1), and alkalinity (953–3063 mg CaCO3 L−1), and then efficiently remove P from swine lagoon liquid. The process was tested with surface lagoon liquids from 10 typical swine farms in North Carolina. Each lagoon liquid received treatment in a nitrification bioreactor, followed by chemical treatment with Ca(OH)2 at Ca rates of 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 mmol L−1 to precipitate P. This configuration was compared with a control that received the same Ca rates but without the nitrification pretreatment. The new process significantly reduced >90% the inorganic buffers concentrations compared with the control and prevented ammonia losses. Subsequent lime addition resulted in efficient pH increase to ≥9.5 for optimum P precipitation in the nitrified liquid and significant reduction of effluent total P concentration versus the control. With this new process, the total P concentration in treated liquid effluent can be adjusted for on-farm use with up to >90% of P removal. The recovered solid Ca phosphate material can be easily exported from the farm and reused as P fertilizer. Therefore, the new process can be used to reduce the P content in livestock effluents to levels that would diminish problems of excess P accumulation in waste-amended soils.

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