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J Environ Qual. 2012 Sep-Oct;41(5):1633-41. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0012.

Sulfur turnover and emissions during storage of cattle slurry: effects of acidification and sulfur addition.

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  • 1Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark.


Slurry acidification using sulfuric acid reduces ammonia emissions but also affects sulfur (S) cycling. Emission of sulfur is a source of malodor and reduces the sulfur fertilizer value of the slurry. We investigated the effect of sulfate and methionine amendments, alone or in combination with acidification, on sulfur transformations in slurry and emissions of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) during storage of fresh and aged cattle slurry. When pH was lowered to 5.5 it resulted in an almost complete inhibition of sulfate reduction. There was a huge emission of hydrogen sulfide (HS) with addition of sulfate and methionine ( < 0.01). Methanethiol (MT) was emitted in treatments with addition of methionine, especially when simultaneously acidified ( < 0.01). The large HS production in the sulfate-amended slurries resulted in little accumulation of MT and dimethyl sulfide (DMS) under neutral conditions, in contrast to acidic conditions where the degradation was inhibited and both MT and DMS accumulated. Based on odor activity values, untreated slurry had little odor development from S compounds, especially the aged slurry. Acidification did not significantly increase odor contribution from any of the compounds in fresh or aged slurry. Generally, addition of a sulfate increased the contribution from HS dramatically, whereas acidification lowered the HS contribution but increased that of MT. Thus, acidification of slurry with sulfuric acid may potentially produce more odor from S compounds than untreated slurry.

Copyright © by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, Inc.

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