Potential for Recovering Phosphorus from Manure

CANADA - Researchers with the University of Manitoba are confident a chemical process used to remove struvite from municipal waste streams for sale as phosphorus fertilizer can be applied to livestock manure, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 13 May 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Last September researchers with University of Manitoba launched a two year project aimed at recovering magnesium ammonium phosphate, or struvite, from raw liquid or anaerobically digested hog manure for use as phosphorus fertilizer.

Biosystems engineering professor Dr. Nazim Cicek explains struvite, an inorganic crystal, can be used as a slow release fertilizer.

Dr. Nazim Cicek-University of Manitoba

The primary objective is to really look at some basic laboratory testing with raw manure.

That's basically manure that's been stored in lagoon type environments and also looking at laboratory based anaerobically digested manure.

Those two starting products are different in nature as far as the phosphorus type and content is concerned so we're looking at understanding the dynamics of this crystallization process and trying to optimize the process in terms of adding the minimal amount of chemicals to it, which would then allow us to do this in a relatively lower cost.

Ultimately the idea would be to propose to farmers and proponents how to go about recovering this chemical in a technically and cost effective manner and then suggesting to them certain means of doing that, providing them with some technical data and coming up with a costs analysis that would suggest at what cost breaking point for phosphorus fertilizer would this become a reasonable alternative for the farmer and actually be a revenue stream.

Dr. Cicek suggests, by recovering some of the phosphorus in this form, the left over manure will be more agronomically suited for land application while reducing the risk of phosphorus running off into waterways.

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