Oxygen distribution and potential ammonia oxidation in floating, liquid manure crusts

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Quality, 2010, 39 (5), pp. 1813 - 1820
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Floating, organic crusts on liquid manure, stored as a result of animal production, reduce emission of ammonia (NH3) and other volatile compounds during storage. The occurrence of NO2- and NO3- in the crusts indicate the presence of actively metabolizing NH3-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) which may be partly responsible for this mitigation effect. Six manure tanks with organic covers (straw and natural) were surveyed to investigate the prevalence and potential activity of AOB and its dependence on the O2 availability in the crust matrix as studied by electrochemical profiling. Oxygen penetration varied from <1 mm in young, poorly developed natural crusts and old straw crusts, to several centimeters in the old natural crusts. The AOB were ubiquitously present in all crusts investigated, but nitrifying activity could only be detected in old natural crusts and young straw crust with high O2 availability. In old natural crusts, total potential NH3 oxidation rates were similar to reported fluxes of NH3 from slurry without surface crust. These results indicate that old, natural surface crusts may develop into a porous matrix with high O2 availability that harbors an active population of aerobic microorganisms, including AOB. The microbial activity may thus contribute to a considerable reduction of ammonia emissions from slurry tanks with well-developed crusts. Copyright © 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. All rights reserved.
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