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Comparison of Raw Dairy Manure Slurry and Anaerobically Digested Slurry as N Sources for Grass Forage Production

DOI: 10.1155/2012/101074

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Abstract:

We conducted a 3-year field study to determine how raw dairy slurry and anaerobically digested slurry (dairy slurry and food waste) applied via broadcast and subsurface deposition to reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) affected forage biomass, N uptake, apparent nitrogen recovery (ANR), and soil nitrate concentrations relative to urea. Annual N applications ranged from 600?kg?N?ha?1 in 2009 to 300?kg?N?ha?1 in 2011. Forage yield and N uptake were similar across slurry treatments. Soil nitrate concentrations were greatest at the beginning of the fall leaching season, and did not differ among slurry treatments or application methods. Urea-fertilized plots had the highest soil nitrate concentrations but did not consistently have greatest forage biomass. ANR for the slurry treatments ranged from 35 to 70% when calculations were based on ammonium-N concentration, compared with 31 to 65% for urea. Slurry ANR calculated on a total N basis was lower (15 to 40%) due to lower availability of the organic N in the slurries. No consistent differences in soil microbial biomass or other biological indicators were observed. Anaerobically digested slurry supported equal forage production and similar N use efficiency when compared to raw dairy slurry. 1. Introduction There is a need for a set of best management practices that addresses how to utilize the growing quantity of reactive nitrogen (N) produced by livestock operations. Animal agriculture in the United States has become more specialized with farms consolidating and growing in size [1]. The number of dairy farms has decreased by 94% since 1960, but the number of animals has remained constant [2]. Animal consolidation has created challenges with respect to on-farm N surplus, waste management and nutrient loading in the environment [3, 4]. Annually in the United States, more than 5800?Mg of manure N is produced [5]. One approach to ameliorate negative environmental impacts associated with animal manures is through adoption of anaerobic digestion technologies to treat farm-generated manures and food processing wastes [6–9]. Digestion of wastes can provide a stable and consistent source of nutrients comparable to inorganic fertilizers such as urea. Anaerobic digestion converts organic carbon into methane used to generate electricity, and it also converts organic N to plant available ammonium ( ), increasing the ratio of /total N in the effluent [10]. Carbon is removed during both the methane production and fiber removal processes, resulting in a smaller C?:?N ratio of the effluent [11]. Therefore, digested

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