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Ammonia volatilization during storage of cattle and pig slurry: effect of surface cover

  • S. G. Sommer (a1), B. T. Christensen (a1), N. E. Nielsen (a2) and J. K. Schjφrring (a2)


Gaseous NH3 losses from pig and cattle slurry stored in eight storage tanks were measured simultaneously using wind-tunnels. The slurry was either stirred weekly (uncovered), or was allowed to develop a natural surface crust. Oil, peat, chopped cereal straw, PVC foil, leca® (pebbles of burned montmorillonitic clay) and a lid were tested as additional covers. Convective transport of ammonium to the surface layers caused NH3 volatilization losses of 3–5 g NH3-N/m2 per day from the stirred, uncovered tanks. The loss of NH3 from the stirred slurry was related to air temperature. The development of a natural surface crust reduced NH3 losses to 20% of those from stirred slurry. NH3 losses from slurry not developing a natural surface crust layer and left undisturbed were similar to the losses from stirred slurry. A 15 cm layer of straw was as effective as a surface crust layer in reducing NH3 losses. In one experiment, cracks developed in the oil cover and losses were therefore only reduced to 50% of those of uncovered slurry. Apart from this experiment, NH3 losses from slurry covered with oil, leca®, peat and foil were small.



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The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
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