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Biological Treatment of Manure and Organic Residuals to Capture Nutrients and Transform Contaminants

Development and evaluation of manure treatment systems. Specific objectives:
  1. Develop treatment technologies and management practices to reduce the concentrations of pharmaceutically active compounds (antibiotics and natural hormones) in manures, litters, and biosolids utilized in agricultural settings;
  2. Develop management practices and technologies to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from manure and litter storage and from composting operations by manipulating the biological, chemical, and physical processes influencing production and release of ammonia and greenhouse gases during composting;
  3. Develop technology and management practices that improve the economics and treatment efficiency of anaerobic digestion of animal manures and other organic feedstocks (e.g. food wastes, crops/residues) for waste treatment and energy production.
More Info:
Modern livestock production involves the use of large amounts of nutrient inputs as well as antibiotics. Untreated manure is either stored or immediately applied to farmland as a fertilizer. When manure is applied to fields, manure components (nutrients, microorganisms, and remaining antibiotic residues) may reach surface water by volatilization, run-off or leaching. The goal of this research is to improve our basic understanding of two common manure treatment practices (composting and anaerobic digestion) so as to maximize their benefits and minimize their economic and environmental costs. The first objective is to evaluate the efficacy of a series of minimal management options for composting manure and poultry litter on-farm to reduce concentrations of ten widely used pharmaceutically active compounds. Treatments are designed to span a range of practical management options � from the current practice of stockpiling the manure/litter to amending it with straw (to increase aeration) and adding insulating layers of straw.

The second objective seeks to reduce the environmental footprint of composting by reducing methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia emissions during composting. Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions will be measured using replicate pilot-scale compost piles composed of manure/bedding from the BARC dairy and food/green wastes from local food processors. The first set of treatments will test the timing and frequency of compost mixing and turning. Subsequent experiments will measure and compare gas emissions from replicate piles constructed at initial bulk densities and from piles covered with 7-30 cm layers of finished compost.

The third objective involves an evaluation of a relatively low-cost anaerobic digestion system that has significant potential for use on small farms. Six replicate pilot-scale plug-flow digesters, with two operational designs will be studied to provide long-term research on a system that has not been fully explored. Treatment efficiency, capital and operational costs, and gas utilization strategies will be evaluated for each type of system. Costs and benefits of different treatment strategies will be compared to existing manure management practices.

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Mulbry, Walter
Rice, Clifford
Project Reports:
Published Journal Articles USDA ARS (NP 108):
Nutrient removal from agricultural drainage water using algal turf scrubbers and solar power
Kangas P, Mulbry W.
Bioresour Technol. 2014 Jan;152:484-9.
Fate of microconstituents in biosolids composted in an aerated silage bag
Lozano N, Andrade NA, Deng D, Torrents A, Rice CP, McConnell LL, Ramirez M, Millner PD.
J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2014;49(6):720-30.
Fate of Triclocarban, Triclosan and Methyltriclosan during wastewater and biosolids treatment processes
Lozano N, Rice CP, Ramirez M, Torrents A.
Water Res. 2013 Sep 1;47(13):4519-27.
Economic analysis of small-scale agricultural digesters in the United States
Klavona KH, Lansing SA, Mulbry W, Mossa AR, Feltona G.
Bioresour Technol. 2013 Jul;54:36-45.
The effect of liming on antibacterial and hormone levels in wastewater biosolids
Olszewski JM, Lozano N, Haines C, Rice CP, Ramirez M, Torrents A.
J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2013 Mar 13;48(8):862-70.
Turbulence and nutrient interactions that control benthic algal production in an engineered cultivation raceway
Blersch DM, Kangas PC, Mulbry WW.
Algal Research. 2013 Mar;2(2):107-12.
Autonomous benthic algal cultivator under feedback control of ecosystem metabolism
Blersch DM, Kangas PC, Mulbry W.
Environ Eng Sci. 2013 Feb 14;30(2):53-60.
Near- and mid-infrared spectroscopic determination of algal composition
Mulbry W, Reeves J, Liu Y, Ruan Z, Liao W.
J Appl Phycol. 2012 Oct;24(5):1261-7.
Biodegradability of injection molded bioplastic pots containing polylactic acid and poultry feather fiber
Ahn HK, Huda MS, Smith MC, Mulbry W, Schmidt WF, Reeves JB 3rd.
Bioresour Technol. 2012 Apr;102(7):4930-3.
Concentration of organic contaminants in fish and their biological effects in a wastewater-dominated urban stream
Lozano N, Rice CP, Pagano J, Zintek L, Barber LB, Murphy EW, Nettesheim T, Minarik T, Schoenfuss HL.
Sci Total Environ. 2012 Mar 15;420:191-201.
Use of an algal hydrolysate to improve enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose
Chen R, Yue Z, Deitz L, Liu Y, Mulbry W, Liao W.
Bioresour Technol. 2012 Mar;108:149-54.
Fate of Triclosan and Methyltriclosan in soil from biosolids application
Lozano N, Rice CP, Ramirez M, Torrents A.
Environ Pollut. 2012 Jan;160(1):103-8.
Algal turf scrubbing: cleaning surface waters with solar energy while producing a biofuel
Adey WH, Kangas PC, Mulbry W.
Bioscience. 2011 Jun;61(6):434-41.
Steroid hormones in biosolids and poultry litter: a comparison of potential environmental inputs
Bevacqua CE, Rice CP, Torrents A, Ramirez M.
Sci Total Environ. 2011 May 1;409(11):2120-6.
Non-Journal Publications:
Using chiral identification of metolachlor ethane sulfonic acid as a groundwater dating tool - (Abstract Only)
Accepted Publication (12-Jul-13)
Fate of tricloasa and methyltriclosan from biosolids application - (Abstract Only)
Accepted Publication (17-Apr-13)
Spatial variation in selected veterinary drugs across a cattle feedlot transect from barn to retention basin - (Abstract Only)
Accepted Publication (30-Aug-11)
Metolachor-ESA as a marker for nitrate flux in a first-order stream and riparian zones - (Abstract Only)
Accepted Publication (17-Jul-11)
Fate of triclosan and methyltriclosan in soil from biosolids application- (Abstract Only)
Lozano, N., Rice, C., Torrents, A., Ramirez, M. 2011. Fate of triclosan and methyltriclosan in soil from biosolids application [abstract]. Society of Toxicology and Chemistry, 32:70.
Alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates, PBDEs, PCBs and chlorinated pesticides in largemouth bass from North Shore Channel of the Chicago River, Illinois - (Abstract Only)
Lozano, N., Rice, C., Pagano, J., Zintek, L., Barber, L., Schoenfuss, H., Murphy, B., Nettescheim, T., Lordi, D. 2010. Alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates, PBDEs, PCBs and chlorinated pesticides in largemouth bass from North Shore Channel of the Chicago River, Illinois. Meeting Abstract. Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America. p. 410.
Food Safety Categories:
On-Farm Food Safety
Contaminants and Contamination
Farm-to-Table Categories:
On-farm food production