Modern livestock production facilities face both challenges and opportunities with respect to sustainable manure management practices. Nutrient recycling is constrained by the size of modern livestock operations, the low nutrient density of liquid manures, and the spatial and temporal variability of manure nutrient concentrations. These constraints can and must be addressed or farmers will be increasingly drawn to nutrient wasting strategies such as anaerobic lagoons, wetlands, and other systems designed to treat and discharge nutrients to the environment. Intentional discharge of nutrients is difficult to justify in a sustainable agricultural production system, since replacing those nutrients through chemical fertilization requires considerable expenditure of energy. In contrast, there are several currently viable technologies which provide the homogenization and stabilization needed to successfully compete against chemical fertilizers, including composting, pelletization, and anaerobic digestion. Some of these technologies, particularly anaerobic digestion and composting, also open up increased opportunities to market the energy and nutrients in manure to non-agricultural uses. Future advances in biotechnology are likely to demonstrate additional options to transform manure into fuels, chemicals, and other non-agricultural products.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology