Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #255855

Title: Coal-ash as a surfacing material for feedlots to improve energy and nutrient value of manure

item Woodbury, Bryan
item Eigenberg, Roger
item Spiehs, Mindy
item Parker, David

Submitted to: International Symposium on Air Quality and Waste Management for Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2010
Publication Date: 9/13/2010
Citation: Woodbury, B.L., Eigenberg, R.A., Spiehs, M.J., Parker, D.B. 2010. Coal-ash as a surfacing material for feedlots to improve energy and nutrient value of manure. 2010. In: Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. International Symposium on Air Quality and Manure Management for Agriculture, September 13-16, 2010, Dallas, Texas. 2010 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Maintaining adequate feedlot pen surfaces is time consuming and expensive. An ash by-product from electrical generation from coal was evaluated as an alternative pen surfacing material to soil. Beef cattle were raised on pens surfaced with the ash by-product or soil to determine the difference in the manure that was collected after the animals were raised. The amount of material collected on the soil surfaced pens was 3 times the amount that was collected on the ash by-product surfaced pens. The amount of material that needed to be replaced to recondition the pens after the animals were removed was substantially less for the ash by-product pens than the soil surfaced pens. The ash by-product material appears to provide a better surface than the pens using soil.

Technical Abstract: Hauling soil/manure out and fill-soil in to maintain adequate feedlot pen surfaces is time consuming and expensive. Pond ash (PA), a by-product from coal-fired electrical generation, has very good support qualities even when wet. Four pens were excavated to a depth of 0.5 m and returned to grade with PA. The remaining four pens were not altered. Eight heifers per pen were housed for a typical feeding cycle. When the animals were removed, the pens cleaned, samples were collected and analyzed for moisture, total solids (TS), volatile solids (VS,) and total ash. Analysis indicates PA pens had a 70% reduction in TM when compared to the soil surface (SS) pens. Though the total mass of VS removed was similar between the two surface materials, the PA pen percent VS was nearly twice that of the SS pens. The difference between the two pen surface materials is the amount of ash (i.e., soil). The collected material from the SS pens contained nearly four times more ash than PA pens. Additionally, SS pens required an average 11,000 kg of fill to return the surface to original grade, while the PA pens did not require any fill. The data set is limited and additional evaluations are required before more definitive conclusions can be drawn; however, analysis indicates nearly 14 times more material handled for SS pens when compared to PA pens.