Moisture and temperature distribution in cattle mortality composting on the farm

Hahn, F.; Peña, M. A.; Coras, P.; Vazquez, M.
January 2009
Canadian Biosystems Engineering;2009, Vol. 51, p6.23
Academic Journal
Composting livestock mortalities is an environmentally sound and biosecure means of waste management. A 2-year study on cattle mortality composting was conducted on four farms in Manitoba in 2004 and 2005. A total of 20 static compost piles with 24 carcasses were constructed with either straw, sawdust, woodchip, or sunflower seed hull as carbon amendment, and with or without a bottom plastic liner. Temperature and moisture content (MC) were monitored at four different layers in each pile during 7 months. Nutrients in the soil beneath the pile were analyzed to assess the effect of a liner on leaching. Results showed that the pile temperature ranged from 10 to 60°C and MC ranged from 10 to 80%. Differences in MC and temperature were observed among the layers in a pile. Several factors affected the trends, such as weather condition, amendment type, and location inside the pile. Among the amendments used, sawdust resulted in the most suitable pile temperatures and MC during the composting process. The presence of a second carcass did not require additional amendment and increased temperature. For the straw amendment, the plastic liner resulted in reduced nutrient levels in the soil, which was observed only in 2 out of 15 cases. For the sawdust amendment, the plastic liner did not make any differences in the soil nutrient.


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