The effect of chemical amendments used for phosphorus abatement on greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from dairy cattle slurry: Synergies and pollution swapping

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Abstract

Land application of cattle slurry can result in incidental and chronic phosphorus (P) loss to waterbodies, leading to eutrophication. Chemical amendment of slurry has been proposed as a management practice, allowing slurry nutrients to remain available to plants whilst mitigating P losses in runoff. The effectiveness of amendments is well understood but their impacts on other loss pathways (so-called 'pollution swapping' potential) and therefore the feasibility of using such amendments has not been examined to date. The aim of this laboratory scale study was to determine how the chemical amendment of slurry affects losses of NH 3, CH 4, N 2 O, and CO 2. Alum, FeCl 2, Polyaluminium chloride (PAC)- and biochar reduced NH 3 emissions by 92, 54, 65 and 77% compared to the slurry control, while lime increased emissions by 114%. Cumulative N 2 O emissions of cattle slurry increased when amended with alum and FeCl 2 by 202% and 154% compared to the slurry only treatment. Lime, PAC and biochar resulted in a reduction of 44, 29 and 63% in cumulative N 2 O loss compared to the slurry only treatment. Addition of amendments to slurry did not significantly affect soil CO 2 release during the study while CH 4 emissions followed a similar trend for all of the amended slurries applied, with an initial increase in losses followed by a rapid decrease for the duration of the study. All of the amendments examined reduced the initial peak in CH 4 emissions compared to the slurry only treatment. There was no significant effect of slurry amendments on global warming potential (GWP) caused by slurry land application, with the exception of biochar. After considering pollution swapping in conjunction with amendment effectiveness, the amendments recommended for further field study are PAC, alum and lime. This study has also shown that biochar has potential to reduce GHG losses arising from slurry application.

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Brennan, R. B., Healy, M. G., Fenton, O., & Lanigan, G. J. (2015). The effect of chemical amendments used for phosphorus abatement on greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from dairy cattle slurry: Synergies and pollution swapping. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111965

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