Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from outdoor-stored broiler litter using tunable-diode laser spectroscopy
Handling and storage of a variety of types of agricultural wastes results in the formation and release of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) gases to the atmosphere. These gases contribute to climate change through the greenhouse effect. Few studies have examined evolution of these gases from stored poultry litter in North America. Although N 2O is a by-product of nitrification, it is largely produced as an intermediate product of denitrification and is produced most intensely when both aerobic and anaerobic conditions are present. CH4 emissions, however, are typically associated with anaerobic reactions. Outdoor storage of broiler litter provides an excellent media for which both aerobic and anaerobic zones can coexist, particularly when the litter is of varying ages from multiple broiler flocks (cycles). It provides a large amount of nitrogen for bacterial nitrification/denitrification processes as well as Carbon to support anaerobic bacterial fermentation. The objective of the study was to quantify N 2O and CH4 emissions for broiler litter stored in an uncovered, outdoor bunker by conducting small-scale dynamic flux chamber studies and full-scale field experiments. The field experiments used a modified micrometeorological mass balance approach to monitor emissions from stored broiler litter in a three-walled concrete bunker. Atmospheric concentrations of N2O and CH4 were measured using tunable-diode laser spectroscopy. Field experiments over the course of approximately four months yielded average emission rates of 14±17[mu]g m-2 s -1 and 84±61 [mu]g m-2 s-1 for N2O and CH4 respectively that agreed well with the trends of emission rates observed in the dynamic flux chamber experiments. The primary drivers of emissions of both CH4 and N2O appeared to be temperature and moisture content while organic carbon and organic nitrogen (loss on ignition, nitrate concentrations) contents were also important factors.