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Nitrogen fertilizer value of digestates from anaerobic digestion of animal manures and crops

Sørensen, Peter; Mejnertsen, Peter and Møller, Henrik B. (2011) Nitrogen fertilizer value of digestates from anaerobic digestion of animal manures and crops. In: NJF Report, Nordic Association of Agricultural Scientists, 7 (8), NJF seminar, no. 443, pp. 42-44.

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After anaerobic digestion (AD) of manures for biogas production the concentration of ammonium-N is increased and the concentration of decomposable carbon in manure is decreased. That implies that the first year fertilizer value of the manure can be increased by the treatment. However, pH is also increased by AD thereby increasing the risk of ammonia losses while the lowered dry matter content on the other hand improves the manure infiltration in soil and reduces the risk of ammonia loss. Therefore the effects of AD on plant N availability can be expected to interact with the manure application method used.
In stockless organic farming it has been suggested that nitrogen utilization can be improved by using anaerobic digestion of plant-based green manures, but the information about such manures is scarce.
We have compared nitrogen fertilizer values of 1) pig and cattle slurries before and after AD and 2) digested plant-based manures. Mineral fertilizer replacement values (MFRV) were determined after direct injection to barley and oats crops and after surface-banding in a winter wheat crop.
The manures were digested in continuously fed pilot digesters at thermophilic conditions (ca. 50°C). The manures were applied to small framed plots and grain yields and N uptake were compared to plots receiving increasing amounts of mineral N fertilizer. The three tested plant-based manures derived from crops of either grass clover, yellow lupine or a triticale-winter vetch mixture.
The MFRV of total N in two different injected cattle slurries increased from 58-75% to 69-82% after AD. The MFRV of cattle slurry after surface-banding in winter wheat was much lower: 30-37% for untreated slurry and 38-49% after AD. The low availability after surface-banding can be ascribed to high ammonia volatilization. The MFRV of injected pig slurry was high and similar with and without AD: 89-91%. After surface banding of pig slurry MFRV was 75% for untreated and 87% for digested pig slurry.
The plant-based manures contained a high proportion of ammonium-N (59-68% of total N) after AD and the MFRVs of total manure N were comparable to the digested cattle slurries: 73-77% after injection, but only 43-57% after surface-banding of the manure.
The influence of AD of manure on N turnover in soil has also been evaluated in a soil incubation study with some of the same manures, and the differences between untreated and digested manures were more distinct in this incubation study than the observed differences in fertilizer value.
We conclude that the potential plant availability of pig and cattle slurry can be increased by 10-15% points after AD. However, after surface-banding of digested manures rich in fibers, such as cattle and plant-based manures, significant ammonia loss can be expected resulting in relative poor N utilization.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > Organic RDD 1 > HighCrop
Denmark > CROPSYS
Deposited By: Sørensen, Senior scientist Peter
ID Code:20269
Deposited On:04 Jan 2012 12:15
Last Modified:06 Jun 2022 16:04
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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