From: American Society of Agronomy
Published August 9, 2017 09:48 AM

Biochar shows benefits as manure lagoon cover

Manure is a reality in raising farm animals. Manure can be a useful fertilizer, returning valued nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil for plant growth. But manure has problems. Odor offensiveness, gas emissions, nutrient runoff, and possible water pollution are just a few.

Timing is also a problem. Livestock produce manure 24/7 – even when it is impractical or unwise to move it to the field. Delivering manure to the field needs to be timed to nutrient needs, soil moisture levels, and temperature. How can farmers handle this timing issue, as well as other manure problems?

In cities, sewers and water treatment facilities deal with human waste. On farms, manure storage lagoons can hold the manure until the time is ripe. This solves the timing and delivery problem – but what about odor and gas emissions?

In addition to the inconvenience of odor, manure can release gases connected to air pollution and climate change. Methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide are examples. Scientist Brian Dougherty and colleagues researched methods to reduce these negatives while potentially adding some positives: biochar covers.

Read more at American Society of Agronomy

Image: Over 12 weeks, each biocover was evaluated for its effectiveness at reducing odor. The biochar could have a future use as a nutrient-rich soil amendment. (Credit: Brian Dougherty)

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