A model to identify entry points to curb emissions from complex manure management chains

Qingbo Qu, Keqiang Zhang, Jeroen C.J. Groot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Livestock operations deploy increasingly complex facilities and technologies in manure management to reduce negative environmental impacts and to improve the agronomic value of manures. To capture and quantify processes of degradation, conversion and emission of manure constituents in these complex systems, this study presented a newly developed modular manure management (FarmM3) model. Using this model, we simulated flows and losses of manure organic matter (OM), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) from manure management chains (MMCs) with deep litter, anaerobic lagoon, solid-liquid separation (SLS), anaerobic digestion (AD), and combinations of SLS and AD. The sensitivity of degradation and losses of manure constituents to changes in the configuration and parameters of MMCs was assessed. Results showed the MMCs with deep litter and AD led to higher OM degradation, C losses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the substantial amounts of straw added to bedding and the digester. A trade-off between GHG and ammonia emissions was identified in the MMCs with deep litter. Application of SLS could reduce GHG emissions by 40% to 60% due to reduced methane and nitrous oxide emissions from separated liquid fraction storage. A stronger reduction of ammonia emission was observed when applying SLS to digested slurry than to raw slurry. Sensitivity analysis showed that the N loss was most sensitive to N transformation in the MMC with deep litter, and was most affected by the loss coefficients of ammonia during liquid manure storage and application in MMCs with SLS and AD. Losses of P and K from MMCs with SLS were influenced by separation efficiencies from SLS and loss coefficients from solid fraction storage. The impact of model input parameters on GHG emissions highly depended on the selected manure management facilities. This study shows that manure management facilities have a strong influence on the fate of manure constituents. The FarmM3 model can be used to quantify the degradation and losses of different manure constituents in complex MMCs and the effects of manure treatment facilities, and to identify the most important parameters determining these losses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137787
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2023


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Greenhouse gas emission
  • Manure constituent
  • Modelling
  • Solid-liquid separation
  • Winding stairs sensitivity analysis


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