Nutrient losses from manure management in the European Union

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Manure management systems are conducive to nutrient and carbon losses, but the magnitude of the loss highly depends on the nutrient element, the manure management system and the environmental conditions. This paper discusses manure management systems in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27) and nutrient losses from these systems, with emphasis on nitrogen (N). In general, losses decrease in the order: C, N >> S > K, Na, Cl, B > P, Ca, Mg, metals. Assessments made with the integrated modeling tool MITERRA-EUROPE indicate that the total N excretion in 2000 by livestock in EU-27 was 10,400 kton. About 65% of the total N excretion was collected in barns and stored for some time prior to application to agricultural land. Almost 30% of the N excreted in barns was lost during storage; approximately 19% via NH3 emissions, 7% via emissions of NO, N2O and N2, and 4% via leaching and run-off. Differences between Member States in mean N losses from manure storages were large (range 19.5¿35%). Another 19% of the N excreted in animal housing systems was lost via NH3 emissions following the application of the manure to land. The results indicate that maximally 52% of the N excreted in barns was effectively recycled as plant nutrient. Various emission abatement measures can be implemented and have been implemented already in some Member States to reduce the emissions of NH3 and N2O, and the leaching of N and P. There is scope to reduce NH3 emissions by 30% relative to the reference year 2000, although the uncertainty in estimated emissions and in the estimated effects of emission abatement measures is relatively large.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-272
JournalLivestock Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • cow slurry beneath
  • animal production
  • storage lagoon
  • waste lagoons
  • deep litter
  • nitrogen
  • livestock
  • cattle
  • impact
  • consequences


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