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J Environ Qual. 2003 May-Jun;32(3):1105-13.

Weed seed viability in composted beef cattle feedlot manure.

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, 5403 1st Avenue S., Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1.


Manure composting has gained increased acceptance by the beef cattle (Bos taurus) feedlot industry in southern Alberta, Canada. Unlike fresh manure, compost is often promoted as being "weed-free." Studies were conducted with five weed species in 1997 and thirteen in 1999 to examine the effect of feedlot manure composting on weed seed viability. Weed seeds were buried in open-air compost windrows and recovered at various times during the thermophilic phase of composting. Windrow temperature and water contents were also measured. Germinability was zero for all composted weed seeds at all sampling times in 1997. However, some seeds remained viable (positive tetrazolium test denoting respiration) on Day 70. In 1999, only one of the thirteen species retained germinability on Day 21 and only two species had respiring seeds on Day 42. Time-viability relationships during composting were defined by exponential decay models. Lethal temperatures to eliminate viability was species-dependent. In 1999, four weed species were killed in the initial 7 d of composting at a lethal temperature of 39 degrees C while temperatures of > 60 degrees C were required for two species. Regression analysis on weed seed viability versus windrow temperature resulted in significant R2 values, which showed that only 17 to 29% of the variation in viability was accounted for by temperature. The lack of definitive relationships between temperature and weed seed viability demonstrated that factors other than temperature may play a role in eliminating weed seeds during composting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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