U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Waste Management 39, 2015


U.S. Government work


Composting swine slurries has several advantages, liquid slurries are converted to solids at lower moisture, the total volume and weight of material is reduced and the stabilized product is more easily transported off-site. Despite this, swine waste is generally stored, treated and applied in its liquid form. High-rise finishing facilities (HRFF) permit liquid slurries to be converted to solids which are partially decomposed underneath the HRFF and then finished in compost windrows. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of turning frequency and ambient weather conditions on biological, physical and chemical properties of composted slurry-woodchip mixtures from HRFF. Compost trials were conducted in either fall (FT) or spring (ST) and piles were turned once or three times per week or upon compost temperature reaching 65 °C. Physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics were measured over the course of 112 (FT) or 143 (ST) days of composting. Total carbon, total nitrogen (N) and inorganic N decreased in all piles. Ammonium decreased while nitrate increased in all piles (including unturned), but total N losses were greatest in piles turned more frequently during the ST. Microbial populations of nitrifiers were dominated by ammonia-oxidizing archaea (3.0 X 10^3–4.2 X 10^6 cells g^-1 compost) but ammonia oxidizing bacteria (below detection to 6.0 X cells g^-1 compost) varied in response to turning and compost temperature; denitrifiers were present in high concentrations throughout the process. Swine HRFF materials composted well in windrows regardless of turning frequency and despite significant differences in starting materials and low initial C/N. Volume reduction, low moisture and low readily degradable organic matter suggest that the finished compost would have lower transportation costs and should provide value as a soil conditioner.