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Soluble salts, copper, zinc, and solids constituents in surface runoff from cattle manure compost windrows

Larney, Francis J., Olson, Andrew F., Miller, Jim J., Tovell, Bonnie C.
Canadian journal of plant science 2014 v.94 no.4 pp. 515-527
beef cattle, calcium, carbon nitrogen ratio, cattle manure, compost maturity, composting, copper, feedlots, industry, organic matter, rain, risk, runoff, salts, surface water, water quality, zinc, Alberta
Larney, F. J., Olson, A. F., Miller, J. J. and Tovell, B. C. 2014. Soluble salts, copper, zinc, and solids constituents in surface runoff from cattle manure compost windrows. Can. J. Soil Sci. 94: 515–527. Composting has become widely adopted by the beef cattle feedlot industry in southern Alberta. Compost windrows subjected to heavy rainfall can lead to runoff whose properties may vary with compost maturity. A rainfall simulator generated runoff on days 18, 26, 40, 54, 81, 109 and 224 of manure composting. Runoff was collected in timed 5-L increments to 30 L, creating the variable “time during runoff event” (TDRE). Calcium, K and S showed significant maturity×TDRE interactions, especially earlier in the composting process, e.g., on day 18, Ca values increased from 34 mg L⁻¹ for the initial 0- to 5-L runoff increment to 43 mg L⁻¹ for the final 25- to 30-L increment. Most significant changes in runoff concentrations occurred between days 26 and 40, e.g., Cu levels fell by 67% and Zn levels by 78%. Even though compost Cu and Zn concentrations were higher during the latter stages of composting, their transport potential in runoff was curtailed due to binding with stable organic matter (OM). The C:N ratio of runoff solids decreased from 10.5 on day 18 to only 4.9 on day 224, suggesting the transport of very stable OM after compost curing. The study showed that runoff quality was influenced by compost maturity, which has implications for the timing of rainfall events relative to the maturity spectrum and the potential risk to surface water quality if runoff is not contained.