Institute for Energy and Environment
Non Technical Summary
IEE/WERC, in partnership with the NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics, through the NIFA Organic Waste Utilization project of New Mexico, is addressing the reduction/elimination of observed near and long term impacts of improper manure management in dairy related confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) in New Mexico. This research is designed to eliminate or reduce degradation of water resources and agricultural land that could result from improperly managed waste manures. Traditional windrow composting of dairy wastes have previously presented multiple problems: large specialized equipment expenditures, offensive odors and associated insect infestation, volatilization and/or leaching of nutrients, long composting cycles (up to a year and longer in the desert), large water usage requirements, and most have resulted in an immature, highly saline compost end product (18-25 mS/cm2) that is not beneficial for use in agriculture or viable as a marketable product. This research is addressing the initial problems that exist in traditional composting practices and has now developed a new composting methodology to address these problems. This composting technology (Johnson/Su bioreactor) has little to no investment in specialized equipment (materials for the bio-reactor process cost less than $35.00/unit), produces no odors or commonly associated insects problems, amenable to scaling up, reduces volatilization and leaching of nutrients to minimal amounts, reduces the composting time cycle up to 75%, reduces water usage by a factor of 6, and results in a low salinity (2-3 mS/cm2), nutrient rich, high-microbial-biodiversity compost. This research has also demonstrated that adjustments in substrate composition in the reactors and modification of process temperature regimes effect the end product quality, determining salinity and microbime diversity. These compost products will be designed to fulfill crop nutrient requirements, promote soil health, and contribute towards a reduction in agricultural energy inputs, all important subcomponents of promoting a sustainable agriculture initiative.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
IEE/WERC, in partnership with the NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics will perform research and evaluation addressing utilization of dairy waste with other high-carbon wastes from agriculture and industry towards practical, effective and economical reduction of improper manure management practices through deployment of a unique composting process, development of reliable compost maturity indicators, and compost application protocols through: Objective 1: Improvement of composting end-product quality and reduction of salinity through modification of: compost process temperature, leaching processes, substrate composition and/or amendment addition. Objective 2: Development of a reliable and inexpensive indicator for assessing compost maturity and compost quality determined by quantitative and qualitative analysis of the compost microbiome. Objective 3:Deployment of this composting process and the observed associated benefits derived from product usage though: land application trials, technology demonstrations, conference presentations, and assisting agricultural professionals to adopt lessons learned from this research.
Research in 2010 will continue to explore manipulations in composting methodology and compost substrates towards production of a high nutrient quality, low salinity, biologically diverse compost end-product. Methodology 1:Further exploration into modification of system parameters to determine component contributions through: a)separate composting of the substrates to understand the individual contributions each substrate adds to the process, b) quantify process results with amendment adjustments of co-substrates c) quantify biological parameters that contribute to substrate decomposition and final compost product quality, d)continued analysis of potential leaching processes. These optimizations will explore production of compost products that possess: high non-transient nutrient content, beneficial microbial profiles, and low sodicity primarily increasing marketability. Methodology 2: Compost microbiome assessments, both quantitative and qualitative, will be implemented for determining compost quality. 2009 compost assessment studies indicated a 99.9+% positive correlation when comparing plant growth to biological parameters and recent developments in sequencing technologies now offer access to investigative windows to view these microbial population interactions. Medium diversity microbiome surveys produce reliable, reproducible, and inexpensive microbiome assessments, and analysis of results will be conducted to determine if correlations of the compost microbiome will be a reliable indicator of plant growth and compost maturity. Methodology 3: The high microbial content compost from this unique composting process results in a compost product, possessing traits that support increased plant growth and plant health. Compost microbial population counts (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes) from this process demonstrate an average of 4.5X to 18X the values considered optimal for normal quality compost. Research will concentrate on determing the causal factors of the observed beneficial growth effects and transfer of this knowledge to field trials for benefit confirmation and potential technology deployment with the area and regional agricultural professionals.