Landspreading with co-digested cattle slurry, with or without pasteurisation, as a mitigation strategy against pathogen, nutrient and metal contamination associated with untreated slurry
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CitationS. Nolan, C.E. Thorn, S.M. Ashekuzzaman, I. Kavanagh, R. Nag, D. Bolton, E. Cummins, V. O'Flaherty, F. Abram, K. Richards, O. Fenton, Landspreading with co-digested cattle slurry, with or without pasteurisation, as a mitigation strategy against pathogen, nutrient and metal contamination associated with untreated slurry, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 744, 2020, 140841, ISSN 0048-9697, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140841.
AbstractNorth Atlantic European grassland systems have a low nutrient use efficiency and high rainfall. This grassland is typically amended with unprocessed slurry, which counteracts soil organic matter depletion and provides essential plant micronutrients but can be mobilised during rainfall events thereby contributing to pathogen, nutrient and metal incidental losses. Co-digesting slurry with waste from food processing mitigates agriculture-associated environmental impacts but may alter microbial, nutrient and metal profiles and their transmission to watercourses, and/or soil persistence, grass yield and uptake. The impact of EU and alternative pasteurisation regimes on transmission potential of these various pollutants is not clearly understood, particularly in pasture-based agricultural systems. This study utilized simulated rainfall (Amsterdam drip-type) at a high intensity indicative of a worst-case scenario of ~11 mm hr−1 applied to plots 1, 2, 15 and 30 days after grassland application of slurry, unpasteurised digestate, pasteurised digestate (two conditions) and untreated controls. Runoff and soil samples were collected and analysed for a suite of potential pollutants including bacteria, nutrients and metals following rainfall simulation. Grass samples were collected for three months following application to assess yield as well as nutrient and metal uptake. For each environmental parameter tested: microbial, nutrient and metal runoff losses; accumulation in soil and uptake in grass, digestate from anaerobic co-digestion of slurry with food processing waste resulted in lower pollution potential than traditional landspreading of slurry without treatment. Reduced microbial runoff from digestate was the most prominent advantage of digestate application. Pasteurisation of the digestate further augmented those environmental benefits, without impacting grass output. Anaerobic co-digestion of slurry is therefore a multi-beneficial circular approach to reducing impacts of livestock production on the environment.
FunderIrish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
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