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MANURE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES AND TECHNOLOGIES
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: Pp. 409-434 in Animal Agriculture and the Environment: National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management White Papers. J. M. Rice, D. F. Caldwell, F. J. Humenik, eds. 2006. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASABE. .(doi:10.13031/2013.20260)
Authors: Jeffery Lorimor, Charles Fulhage, Ruihong Zhang, Ted Funk, Ron Sheffield, D. Craig Sheppard, G. Larry Newton
A number of manure management strategies are used for both open lot and confinement facilities
in the U.S. The primary control strategies for open lots are solids removal using settling basins and
containment followed by land application of the liquids. These management strategies are dictated
by federal law for large open lots. Smaller lots may or may not capture and land apply the runoff
liquid. Both large and small lot operators must haul and distribute manure solids on the land. Solid
manure spreaders that apply uniform rates is a major research need.
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Confinement facilities rely primarily, but not exclusively, on liquid handling systems. Two general
categories of liquid systems are pits, or slurry systems, and lagoons, primarily anaerobic lagoons.
Anaerobic lagoon design has been researched and is well known to environmental engineers.
Anaerobic lagoons work better in warm climates where biological activity continues most of
the year. Anaerobic digesters with controlled temperatures can be used to produce biogas and reduce
pathogens, but are difficult to justify due to high capital costs, high management requirements
and a lack of incentives for using the systems. Covered lagoons and anaerobic digesters can significantly
reduce odors and releases of unwanted gases.
Naturally aerobic lagoons can reduce nitrogen in the liquid significantly, but are impractical because
of large size requirements. Mechanically aerated lagoons are sometimes used. Autothermal
thermophilic aerobic digestion, biofilm reactors, sequencing batch reactors, and combinations of
anoxic and aerobic treatments are being researched, and offer advantages of odor reduction, and
waste degradation and stabilization. Additional research is needed to optimize these systems for
nutrient reduction, pathogen destruction, and energy use.
Solid-liquid separation can be used for both open lots and confinements. Open lots typically use
settling basins. Confinements typically use mechanical separators. The efficiency of a separator depends
on the type of waste and the separator. Its difficult to achieve high efficiencies of separation
without pretreatment with coagulating chemicals. Solids from both separators and from open lots
are sometimes composted.
Wetland treatment of manure liquids has received some research attention. It has been shown to
offer some nutrient reduction advantages when designed properly. Initial design parameters have
been determined for animal waste systems, but continued research is needed to adapt wetland systems
to different types of livestock operations.
Chemical amendments remain a question. Both feed additives and manure additives have been
tested by a number of researchers, and have achieved only moderate success at best. Much research
is needed before chemical additives will be major contributors to manure control solutions.
Land application systems are well developed, but always need continued work to improve efficiencies
and effectiveness. One of the primary areas of research needs currently is for injection
units that minimize disturbance of the soil and crop residue cover.
Insect digestion of manure solids has been well researched in laboratory settings. Effective field
production systems need to be devised, and uses for the resultant high protein feedstuffs need to be
Many of the above technologies can be combined into integrated treatment systems that protect
soil, air, and water quality.
Manure management strategies are different for manure from a confinement system (used here to
mean a totally roofed facility) and from an open lot, or partial open lot system. Because open lots
are subject to hydrologic phenomenon such as rainfall, runoff, sunlight, and evaporation, they are
very different from confinement systems. Although there are some similarities, there are many differences.