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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Efficient Management and Use of Animal Manure to Protect Human Health and Environmental Quality

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research Unit

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The overall goal of the research project which is formulated as a real partnership between ARS and Western Kentucky University (WKU) is to conduct cost effective and problem solving research associated with animal waste management. The research will evaluate management practices and treatment strategies that protect water quality, reduce atmospheric emissions, and control pathogens at the animal production facilities, manure storage areas, and field application sites, particularly for the karst topography. This Project Plan is a unique situation in the sense that non-ARS scientists from WKU are included on an in-house project to conduct research under the NP 214. The objectives and related specific sub-objectives for the next 5 years are organized according to the Components (Nutrient, Emission, Pathogen, and Byproduct) of the NP 214, which mostly apply to this project as follows:.
1) develop improved best management practices, application technologies, and decision support systems for poultry and livestock manure used in crop production;.
2)develop methods to identify and quantify emissions, from poultry, dairy and swine rearing operations and manure applied lands;.
3)reduce ammonia, odors, microorganisms and particulate emissions from dairy, swine and poultry operations through the use of treatment systems (e.g. biofilters and scrubbers) and innovative management practices;.
4)perform runoff and leaching experiments on a variety of soils amended with dairy, swine, or poultry manures infected with Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), Salmonella sp. or Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) and compare observed transport with that observed for common indicator organisms such as E. coli, enterococci, and Bacteriodes; and.
5)use molecular-based methodologies to quantify the occurrence of pathogens and evaluate new methods to inhibit their survival and transport in soil, water, and waste treatment systems.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
This in-house project was conceived as a cooperative/partnership and comprehensive research program between USDA-ARS Animal Waste Management Research Unit (AWMRU) and Western Kentucky University (WKU). The project is designed to utilize the scientific expertise and facilities of both institutions to conduct problem-solving research related to animal waste management in Kentucky and the southeastern U.S. The research effort will be multi-disciplinary and multifaceted in support of decision making and systems development. Research focuses will be on all four components (Nutrient, Atmospheric Emission, Pathogens, and By-products) of the National Program 214. In lieu of repeatedly stating the equipment used for analysis, please note that the state-of-the-art laboratories and equipments exist at both AWMRU and WKU, which can be accessed by the scientists including land at the WKU research station. Main instruments include: ICP, GC-MS, 2 GCs, Latchet, 2 C/N Analyzers, IC, HPLC, Real-time PCR, etc.


3.Progress Report
A 2 year study was initiated to evaluate the survival of naturally occurring pathogens (Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica) and indicator organisms (Escherichia coli (E. coli), enterococci) in applied poultry litter or dairy manure. Preliminary studies were conducted to determine the microbial population in the manures and to evaluate culture and molecular methods to follow the organisms. Tall fescue plots with applied manures were established and samples taken for chemical and microbial analysis. A back grounding cattle operation located on Western Kentucky University was used as a model site for characterization of soil nutrients, microbial pathogens, and veterinary pharmaceutical spatial distribution in a feedlot situation. A Global Positioning System (GPS) ground survey was completed and five sets of samples taken for analysis from soils and run-off. Research is being conducted to look at whether the addition of biochar to soil affects the transport behavior of Escherichia (E.) coli through water-saturated and unsaturated soil. Research is also being conducted on the affect of biochar amendment on the sorption of organic compounds to soils. We also performed sorption isotherm experiments for polar organic compounds using swine, cow, and turkey waste biochar prepared at low (350° centigrade) and high (700°). We found that animal waste biochar can enhance binding of the polar organic compounds to soil. Research is also being conducted on ways for improving phosphorus indices. As part of this research, modeling work has been conducted to identify limitations with the Kentucky phosphorus index. We built larger scale versions of novel anaerobic digesters in which waste is recirculated through a silicone membrane located in a supplemental aeration tank. We determined that the system improves biogas quality by increasing bicarbonate buffering and lowering carbon dioxide as well as hydrogen sulfide concentrations. We are utilizing biochar from fast pyrolysis of rice-hull poultry litter in biofiltration systems for ammonia removal. The experimental objective was to compare the abiotic and biotic effects of biochar in removing ammonia from air stream. In another experiment, lab-scale trickling filters seeded with swine micro flora were tested to see their efficiency and efficacy in removing skatole (main odor causing compound from swine waste). The results obtained from this experiment will be used to scale a pilot-scale size bioscrubber. Initial field test of Ambient Ion Monitor (AIM) instrument was successfully conducted; amines were detected in both the particle and gas phase, but during a relatively clean atmospheric event. Continued method development is necessary before direct emission studies can be conducted because air concentrations are expected to be much higher in near-source emission studies and may overwhelm detector.


Review Publications
Netthisinghe, A., Gilfillen, B., Willian, T., Rowland, N., Sistani, K.R. 2011. Inorganic fertilizers after broiler litter amendment reduce surplus nutrients in orchardgrass soils. Agronomy Journal. 103:1-8.

Cook, K.L., Rothrock Jr, M.J., Eiteman, M.A., Lovanh, N.C., Sistani, K.R. 2011. Evaluation of amendments to manage nitrogen loss and microbiological quality in poultry litter. Journal of Environmental Management. 92:1760-1766.

Tellinghuisen, J., Bolster, C.H. 2011. Using R^2 to compare least-squares fit models: When it must fail. Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems. 105:220-222.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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