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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nitrogen and Phosphorus Removal Rates Within Subunits of Algal Turf Scrubbers Grown on Dairy Manure

Authors
item Pizarro, Carolina
item Westhead, Elizabeth
item Mulbry, Walter

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 18, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Conservation and reuse of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from animal manure is increasingly important as producers try to minimize transport of these nutrients off-farm. An alternative to land spreading is to grow crops of algae on the N and P present in the manure. The general goals of our research are to assess one algal production technology, termed algal turf scrubbers (ATS) to recover nutrients from animal manures. The specific objectives of these experiments were to test small sections of algal mats using different loading rates of anaerobically digested dairy manure. Algal turfs were grown in a laboratory-scale ATS unit (1 sq. meter) operated by recycling wastewater and adding manure effluents daily. Replicate subsamples (0.04 sq. meter) of algal turfs of the same age were removed from the ATS unit and treated with different loads of manure containing 5-40 ppm ammonium-N (NH4-N). During the experiments, the pH was maintained between 7-7.5 to prevent ammonia volatilization. The rates we obtained with these small sections of algal mat were comparable to those we obtained using laboratory scale ATS units and correspond to calculated removal rates of about 3 g NH4-N sq. meter-day. These results are important because they show that we can use small subsections of the mat for experiments and that the results are representative of how the larger units will respond. Use of the small sections allows us to conduct relatively rapid experiments and to run several experiments at once using similar algal samples. Both of these features will help us test and develop this technology more quickly.

Technical Abstract: Conservation and reuse of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from animal manure is increasingly important as producers try to minimize transport of these nutrients off-farm. An alternative to land spreading is to grow crops of algae on the N and P present in the manure. The general goals of our research are to assess one algal production technology, termed algal turf scrubbers (ATS) to recover nutrients from animal manures. The specific objectives of these experiments were to test different loading rates of anaerobically digested dairy manure on nitrogen removal rates. Algal turfs were grown in a laboratory-scale ATS unit (1 sq. meter) operated by recycling wastewater and adding manure effluents daily. The most abundant genera of benthic algae in the ATS unit were Ulothrix, Oedegonium and Rhizoclonium. Replicate subsamples (0.04 sq. meter) of algal turfs of the same age were removed from the ATS unit and treated with different loads of manure containing 5-40 ppm ammonium-N (NH4-N). During the experiments, the pH was maintained between 7-7.5 to prevent ammonia volatilization. Ammonium-N removal rates were biphasic, with a fast rate of 3.0-4.7 mg-NH4-N/ hr- gram DW for the first 20-30 minutes, followed by a slower rate of 0.53-0.96 mg-NH4-N/ hr-gram DW for the remainder of the 2 hour incubation period. The initial rates are comparable to laboratory scale ATS units and correspond to calculated removal rates of about 3 g NH4-N sq. meter-day.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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