Manure recycling from urban livestock farms for closing the urban–rural nutrient loops

Solomon Tulu Tadesse*, Oene Oenema, Christy van Beek, Fikre Lemessa Ocho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid urbanization in developing countries is attracting urban livestock farming, which is associated with feed nutrient imports and manure nutrient accumulations. Here, we report on manure nutrients (N, P and K) production on urban livestock farms in Addis Ababa and Jimma in Ethiopia, and estimate manure recovery on these farms and its recycling in urban, peri-urban and rural crop farms. Estimates were based on data from farm surveys, statistics, literature and model calculations. Urban livestock farms had on average 13 tropical livestock units and positive N, P and K balances. Urban crop farms had negative N and K balances, and did not use manure from urban livestock farms. We estimated that 0.5–2.6 Gg N, 0.2–0.8 Gg P and 0.9–3.7 Gg K can be collected in manure from the 5,200 urban livestock farms in Addis Ababa year−1, and can be recycled in crop land. Two manure allocation strategies were explored: balanced P fertilization and balanced N fertilization. The former allowed greater precision in matching nutrient supply to demand, and was associated with greater manure transport and distribution, up to rural areas. Manure recycling has several benefits: synthetic fertilizer savings (75–300 million Ethiopian Birr year−1 for Addis Ababa), soil fertility replenishment, and reductions in water pollution. However, there are various cultural, educational and institutional barriers for manure recycling. We argue that more quantitative data and scenario analyses are needed for deliberative decision making and for exploring more sustainable development pathways of urban livestock farms, re-connected to crop farms via manure recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-67
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Early online date22 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Balanced fertilization
  • Fertilizer saving
  • Manure management
  • Nutrition security
  • Pollution


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