Evaluation of biochar incorporation into manure systems for improving air quality and odor management

PI: Joseph Sanford

Sanford is an assistant professor in the School of Agriculture at UW–Platteville. His research interest is in agriculture wastewater management including management of farmstead and edge of field runoff, nutrient management, precision manure application, water recovery and recycling, pathogen inactivation and transport, and emerging agricultural contaminates such as PFAS. His position is funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Manure from dairy facilities impacts water quality, greenhouse gas emissions and odor. Agriculture contributes 50 percent of global emissions of methane and 80 percent of nitrous oxide. Additionally, community complaints about odor associated with dairy manure due to ammonia emissions are a common occurrence in Wisconsin. Farmers are looking for a cost-effective method to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce odor from manure systems. The purpose of this study is to evaluate biochar incorporation into two manure management systems, including manure storages and anaerobic digestion, to reduce production of GHG, mitigate odors and advance economic feasibility of anaerobic digestion by improving biogas quality. The outcomes from this study will improve dairy farms’ environmental stewardship through reduction in GHG production using biochar covers and anaerobic digestion, improve farm relations with surrounding communities by reducing odor, and minimize barriers for a livestock based, renewable energy farm business in rural communities by enhancing biogas quality.