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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 5, p. 1807-1812
    Received: July 10, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): ndegwa@wsu.edu
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Impact of Separating Dairy Cattle Excretions on Ammonia Emissions

  1. V. K. Vaddella,
  2. P. M. Ndegwa *,
  3. H. S. Joo and
  4. J. L. Ullman
  1. Biological Systems Engineering, Washington State Univ., P.O. Box 646120, Pullman, WA 99164. Assigned to Associate Editor Tim Clough


About 80% of dairy cattle N intake is excreted in urine and feces. Urinary–N is about 75% urea, whereas fecal–N is mostly organic. Urinary–N (urea) can only be volatilized when it is hydrolyzed to ammonia (NH3) in a process catalyzed by urease, which is predominantly found in feces. Minimizing contact between urine and feces may be an effective approach to reducing urea hydrolysis and subsequent NH3 emissions. Previous studies have reported 5 to 99% NH3 emissions mitigation within barns from separation of feces and urine. The objective of this study was to compare NH3 emissions mitigation via separation of urine and feces in postcollection storage to a conventional scrape manure handling method where urine and feces are comingled. Laboratory scale studies were conducted to evaluate NH3 emissions from simulated postcollection storage of three waste streams: (i) idealistically separated feces and urine (no contact between urine and feces), (ii) realistically separated urine and feces (limited contact of urine and feces), and (iii) conventionally scraped manure (control). From the results of these studies, NH3 losses ranking in descending order was as follows: aggregate of realistically separated waste streams (3375.9 ± 54.8 mg), aggregate of idealistically separated urine and feces (3047.0 ± 738.0 mg), and scrape manure (2034.0 ± 106.5 mg), respectively. Therefore, on the basis of these results, the extra effort of separating the waste streams would not enhance mitigation of NH3 losses from postcollection storage of the separated waste streams compared to the conventional scrape manure collection system.

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