Co-digestion of animal slurry can increase short-term nitrogen recovery by crops

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Abstract

Co-digestion changes slurry characteristics and is supposed to increase short-term nitrogen (N) uptake by crops after application. A higher N uptake from slurry reduces the need for additional mineral N fertilizer. If farmers apply co-digested slurry (CS), a higher N recovery has to be taken into account to prevent losses to the environment. Since data on the effects of co-digestion on N recovery by crops are scarce, a pot experiment was performed. The apparent N recovery (ANR) of five different co-digested pig slurries was compared with their raw source slurries (RS) during 105 d after a single fertilization of ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), grown under controlled conditions. Slurry was mixed with sandy soil and grass was cut every 35 d. The results show that co-digestion increased (p <0.05) the ANR at first cut on average from 39 to 50%, at second cut from 7 to 9% (p <0.05), and had no effect on ANR at third cut (3%). The ANR increase at first cut was likely due to an increase of the NH4¿N/total N ratio along with a decrease of the organic C/total N ratio of slurry during co-digestion. Field application may under certain circumstances decrease N fertilizer value of CS, due to a higher NH3 emission compared to RS. A potential ANR increase may then be reduced, absent, or even become a decrease. Under comparable NH3 emissions, however, CS can in the short term be more valuable as an N fertilizer than RS, and fertilizer savings can likely be realized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1968-1973
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Volume37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • greenhouse-gas emissions
  • pig slurry
  • cattle slurry
  • ammonia volatilization
  • anaerobic-digestion
  • ryegrass
  • mineralization
  • soil
  • immobilization
  • grassland

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