Cow manure – a longtime agricultural waste headache for dairy farmers – soon may ignite a new sustainable fertilizing trend.
Judiciously decomposing organic matter from 700 degrees Fahrenheit to 1,200 degrees F, without oxygen – a process known as pyrolysis, very different from incineration – and retaining nutrients from dairy lagoons can transform manure into a manageable, ecologically friendly biochar fertilizer, according to new research published July 22 in Nature Scientific Reports.
That would allow dairy producers to stop storing excreta in on-farm lagoons or spreading it only in nearby fields.
“Manure is usually a liquid problem and it has increasingly been an issue of disposal,” said Johannes Lehmann, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science Soil and Crop Sciences Section, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Using pyrolysis of solid manure and retention of nutrients from the liquid onto the biochar, we can create a fertilizer from waste. That’s a marketable commodity.
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