Recent developments in composting technology enable dairy farms to produce their own bedding from composted manure. This management practice alters the fate of carbon and nitrogen; however, there is little data available documenting how gaseous emissions are impacted. This study measured in-situ emissions of methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ammonia (NH3) from an on-farm solid-liquid separation system followed by continuously-turned plug-flow composting over three seasons. Emissions were measured separately from the continuously-turned compost phase, and the compost-storage phase prior to the compost being used for cattle bedding. Active composting had low emissions of N2O and CH4 with most carbon being emitted as CO2-C and most N emitted as NH3-N. Compost storage had higher CH4 and N2O emissions than the active phase, while NH3 was emitted at a lower rate, and CO2 was similar. Overall, combining both the active composting and storage phases, the mean total emissions were 3.9×10-2 gCH4 kg-1 raw manure (RM), 11.3gCO2 kg-1 RM, 2.5×10-4 g N2O kg-1 RM, and 0.13g NH3 kg-1 RM. Emissions with solid-separation and composting were compared to calculated emissions for a traditional (unseparated) liquid manure storage tank. The total greenhouse gas emissions (CH4 +N2O) from solid separation, composting, compost storage, and separated liquid storage were reduced substantially on a CO2-equivalent basis compared to traditional liquid storage. Solid-liquid separation and well-managed composting could mitigate overall greenhouse gas emissions; however, an environmental trade off was that NH3 was emitted at higher rates from the continuously turned composter than reported values for traditional storage.

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Keywords Continuously turned composting, Dairy manure, Greenhouse gas emissions, Manure management
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Journal Waste Management
Fillingham, M.A. (M. A.), VanderZaag, A.C. (A. C.), Burtt, S. (S.), Baldé, H. (H.), Ngwabie, N.M. (N. M.), Smith, W. (W.), … MacDonald, D. (D.). (2017). Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from production of compost bedding on a dairy farm. Waste Management. doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2017.09.013