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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Research Project #431207

Research Project: Improvement of Soil Management Practices and Manure Treatment/Handling Systems of the Southern Coastal Plain

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

2017 Annual Report

1. Develop and test improved tillage and biomass management practices to enhance soil health and long-term agricultural productivity in the Southeastern Coastal Plain. 2. Develop manure treatment and handling systems that improve soil health and water quality while minimizing the emissions of greenhouse gases, odors and ammonia and the transport of phosphorus and pathogens. Subobjective 2a. Develop improved treatment systems and methods for ammonia and phosphorus recovery from liquid and solid wastes using gas-permeable membrane technology. Subobjective 2b. Develop improved biological treatment systems for liquid effluents and soils based on deammonification reaction using ARS patented bacterial anammox and high performance nitrifying sludge cultures. Subobjective 2c. Improve the ARS patented “Quick Wash” process for phosphorus recovery. Subobjective 2d. Assess treatment methods for their ability to reduce or eliminate pathogens and cell-free, microbially-derived DNA from agricultural waste streams. Subobjective 2e. Improved manure treatment and handling systems, and management strategies for minimizing emissions. Subobjective 2f. Assess the impact of manure treatment and handling systems on agricultural ecosystem services for soil, water, and air quality conservation and protection. 3. Develop beneficial uses of agricultural, industrial, and municipal byproducts, including manure. Subobjective 3a. Evaluate application of designer biochars to soils to increase crop yields while improving soil health, increasing carbon sequestration, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Subobjective 3b. Develop methods and guidelines to remediate mine soils using designer biochars. Subobjective 3c. Evaluate the agronomic value of byproducts produced from emerging manure and municipal waste treatment technologies.

New management practices and treatment technologies are required to help the nation’s crop and animal producers meet increasing economic and environmental challenges. These challenges include increasing soil productivity and health, as well as reducing unwanted atmospheric emissions, excessive nutrients, pathogens, and odors while concomitantly improving the affordability of animal waste treatment. To solve these challenges this research will pursue three complementary objectives. First, improved tillage and biomass management practices will be developed to enhance soil health and long-term agricultural productivity for Southeastern Coastal Plain soils. Long-term conservation tillage and crop management practices, including stover management and cover crops, will be evaluated to enhance soil productivity and limit the impact of climate change while enhancing nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. Second, new manure treatment and handling technologies will be developed to improve soil health and water quality; to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases, odors, ammonia, and pathogens; and to maximize nutrient recovery. These technologies include: recovery of ammonia from manure using gas permeable membranes, enhanced biological nitrogen treatment via deammonification, biochar systems engineered to reduce odor, and new and improved methods of recovering phosphorus from manure. This research project will include covered anaerobic lagoons, thermal treatment, and acidification as technologies to reduce or destroy manure pathogens prior to land application. Third, we will develop beneficial uses for byproducts of manure treatments. This includes the use of biochars and hydrochars byproducts as soil amendments to improve physical and chemical properties, and as a fertilizer source for crop production. Research methods include laboratory, pilot-scale, and field-scale experiments using modern analytical equipment. Research products will advance the state of the science for more effective conservation and management of soil resources, innovative animal waste treatment technologies as environmentally-safe alternatives to traditional land application, and guidelines for beneficial byproduct utilization. Nationwide livestock producers, as well as Southeastern crop producers, will benefit from the findings of this research.

Progress Report
Field experiments are on-going to assess long-term (39 yrs) impacts of tillage (conservation vs. conventional) operations and crop management (row crop vs. cover crop) scenarios on soil organic carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, crop yields, and soil enzymatic activity. (Obj. 1) Cooperated with industry on NASA SBIR Phase II project for rapid reactivation of ARS patented microbes with space wastewater. Procedures were developed for quantitative microscopic fluorescence (FISH) confocal images of Brocadia caroliniensis in consociation with High Performance Nitrifying Sludge (HPNS) nitrifiers. Conducted research to separate proteins and phosphorus from manure in cooperation with Mitsubishi Chemical Holding group. A new method to extract proteins and phosphorus was discovered. Conducted bench experiments on self-acidification of swine manure using glucose, sucrose, starch, and cellulose. (Obj. 2c) Two North Carolina commercial swine farms with anaerobic lagoon treatment (one with a lagoon permeable cover, the other uncovered) agreed to participate in our study measuring pathogen reduction and antibiotic resistance gene propagation. Spring samples were taken from each farm, with sampling occurring for the influent and effluent of each lagoon. Total fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus sp., and Salmonella sp. were counted using a drop plate method while DNA has been extracted from the samples for pending Real Time PCR for antibiotic resistance gene analysis. (Obj. 2d) Several research-grade biochar samples were produced and characterized for odor removal bench experiments in cooperation with Rural Development Agency - Korea. A bench scale odor removal column experimental system was set up. Pine, oak, solid-separated swine manure, coconut shell, and poultry litter were selected as feedstocks for producing biochar. Pellets of these feedstocks were pyrolyzed at 350 and 500 degrees centigrade using a Lindburg electric box furnace equipped with a gas tight retort. Some of these biochars were partially activated with steam at 700 degrees centigrade. In addition, swine manure compost and coconut shell char were steam activated using a commercial rotary kiln system by the Korean colaborators. All biochar samples were analyzed for their elemental compositions, volatile matter, fixed carbon, ash contents, size, density, and surface area. (Obj. 2e) An 8,000-head finishing commercial farm with two covered lagoons in North Carolina agreed to cooperate in our study measuring total farm emissions of ammonia and methane gas. (Obj. 2e) Established a field-scale experiment using designer biochars produced from pine chip, poultry litter, and blends to ascertain short term (3 yrs) impacts on corn yields and to link modifications in yields with soil carbon sequestration, fertility, moisture retention, and soil microbial activity. (Obj. 3a) In cooperation with scientists in the European Joint Program Initiative (FACCE-JPI) in collaboration with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) project, a meta-analysis was conducted on peer-reviewed published literature to document impacts of biochar on nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide formation. Results from the analyses showed that biochar reduces nitrous oxide formation, binds nitrate, and later release it back into solution for plant uptake. (Obj. 3a) In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), designer biochars were developed for mine spoil remediation and improve grass growth. Greenhouse tests were conducted using mine spoils from two different Superfund sites treated with different biochar types to neutralize spoil acidity as well as sequester heavy metals such as zinc. (Obj. 3b) Laboratory tests were carried out to evaluate nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia emissions from a Norfolk loamy sand amended with surface applied low-P broiler litter (Quick Wash treated) in loose or pellet forms and raw broiler litter. (Obj. 3c)

1. Recovery of ammonia and production of high-grade phosphates from animal and municipal effluents. New processes and technologies to recover and re-use nutrients from wastes are desirable to close the nutrient cycle in modern human society and address future scarcity of non-renewable nutrients and fossil-based fertilizers. Therefore, conservation and recovery of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from wastes are important because of economic and environmental reasons. ARS researchers at Florence, South Carolina, have developed a new technology that allows separation and recovery of both ammonia and phosphorus from liquid effluents. A US patent application was filed in 2016 (USDA Docket 83.15). The new technology uses gas-permeable membranes at low pressure that are submerged in the manure liquid. The technology can recover 98% of the N. The process was further improved with little aeration that reduced costs by 70%. The low-rate aeration replaced alkali chemicals that were needed to raise the pH for optimum nitrogen recovery. An additional breakthrough came when the N process was combined with P recovery. Since ammonia and carbonates were taken out, the combined process produced phosphorus bio-minerals containing a very-high phosphate grade (46%), similar to commercial fertilizer favored by the fertilizer industry. The process provided 100% P recovery efficiencies. This technology has applications for anaerobic digester effluents in swine operations, dairies and municipalities. The potential value of recovered P and N from implementation of nutrient recovery technology in dairy farms is about 1.3 billion dollars. The invention provides a more competitive technology for nutrient recovery from the side-stream effluent of municipal plants that contains high P and N concentration. Users are entrepreneurs, livestock producers, municipalities, industrialists, extension practitioners and other scientists interested in manure nutrient recovery technologies.

Review Publications
Vanotti, M.B., Dube, P., Szogi, A.A., Garcia-Gonzalez, M.C. 2017. Recovery of ammonia and phosphate minerals from swine wastewater using gas-permeable membranes. Water Research. 112:137-146.
Ippolito, J.A., Berry, C.M., Strawn, D.G., Novak, J.M., Levine, J., Harley, A. 2017. Biochars reduce mine land soil bioavailable metals. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46:411-419.
Randolph, P., Bansode, R., Hassan, O., Rehrah, D., Ravella, R., Reddy, M., Watts, D.W., Novak, J.M., Ahmedna, M. 2017. Effects of biochars produced from solid organic municipal waste on soil quality parameters. Journal of Environmental Management. 192:271-280.
Mehmood, K., Chavez Garcia, E., Schirrmann, M., Ladd, B., Kammann, C., Wrage-Monnig, N., Siebe, C., Estavillo, J.M., Fuertes-Mendizabal, T., Cayuela, M., Sigua, G.C., Spokas, K.A., Cowie, A.L., Novak, J.M., Ippolito, J.A., Borchard, N. 2017. Biochar research activities and their relation to development and environmental quality: A meta-analysis. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. doi:10.1007/s13593-017-0430-1.
Kammann, C., Ippolito, J., Hagemann, N., Borchard, N., Cayuela, M., Estavillo, J., Fuertes-Mendizabal, T., Jeffery, S., Kern, J., Novak, J.M., Rasse, D., Saarnio, S., Schmidt, H., Spokas, K.A., Wrage-Monnig, N. 2017. Biochar as a tool to reduce the agricultural greenhouse-gas burden-knowns, unknowns, and future research needs. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Landscape Management. 25(02):114-139.
Laird, D.A., Novak, J.M., Collins, H.P., Ippolito, J.A., Karlen, D.L., Lentz, R.D., Sistani, K.R., Spokas, K.A., Van Pelt, R.S. 2016. Multi-year and multi-location soil quality and crop biomass yield responses to hardwood fast pyrolysis biochar. Geoderma. 289:46-53.
Camps-Arbestain, M., Shen, Q., Wang, T., Van Zwieten, L., Novak, J.M. 2017. Available nutrients in biochar. CSIRO Australia Griffith NSW. 109-125.
Sigua, G.C., Stone, K.C., Bauer, P.J., Szogi, A.A. 2016. Nitrate leaching, water-use efficiency and yield of corn with different irrigation and nitrogen management systems in coastal plains, USA. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment. 203:159-170.
Connan, R., Dabert, P., Le Roux, S., Chapleur, O., Bridoux, G., Vanotti, M.B., Beline, F., Magri, A. 2017. Characterization of a combined batch-continuous procedure for the culture of anammox biomass. Ecological Engineering. 106:231-241.
Vanotti, M.B., Dube, P.J., Szogi, A.A. 2017. Recovery of ammonia and production of high-grade phosphates from side-stream digester effluents using gas-permeable membranes. Frontiers in Wastewater Treatment and Modeling. Book Series: Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering. 4:13-17. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-58421-8_2.
Ducey, T.F., Collins, J.C., Ro, K.S., Woodbury, B.L., Griffin, D. 2017. Hydrothermal carbonization of livestock mortality for the reduction of pathogens and microbially-derived DNA. Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering. 11(3):9-16.
Miller, J.O., Ducey, T.F., Brigman Jr, P.W., Ogg, C.O., Hunt, P.G. 2017. Greenhouse gas emissions and denitrification within depressional wetlands of the southeastern US coastal plain in an agricultural landscape. Wetlands. 37(1):33-43.
Ro, K.S., Moore Jr, P.A., Szogi, A.A., Millner, P.D. 2017. Ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions from broiler houses with downtime windrowed litter. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46:498-504.
Han, L., Sun, H., Ro, K.S., Sun, K., Libra, J., Xing, B. 2017. Removal of antimony (III) and cadmium (II) from aqueous solution using animal manure-derived hydrochars and pyrochars. Bioresource Technology. 234:77-85.
Mandal, S., Sarkar, B., Bolan, N., Novak, J.M., Ok, Y., Van Zwienten, L., Bhupinder, P., Kirkham, M., Choppala, G., Spokas, K.A., Naidu, R. 2016. Designing advanced biochar products for maximizing greenhouse gas mitigation potential. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science Technology. 46(17):1367-1401.
Berihu, T., Girmay, G., Sebhatleab, M., Berhane, E., Zenebe, A., Sigua, G.C. 2016. Soil carbon and nitrogen losses following deforestation in Ethiopia. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. doi:10.1007/s13593-016-0408-4.
Garcia-Gonzales, M.C., Vanotti, M.B., Szogi, A.A. 2016. Recovery of ammonia from anaerobically digested manure using gas-permeable membranes. Scientia Agricola. 73(5):434-438.
Szogi, A.A., Vanotti, M.B. 2016. Decline of phosphorus, copper, and zinc in anaerobic swine lagoon columns receiving pretreated influent. Scientia Agricola. 73(5):417-423.