Phosphorus Characterisation of Sludge and Crust Produced by Stabilisation Ponds in a Dairy Manure Management System

  • Woo Taek Hong
  • Dharmappa HagareEmail author
  • Modabber Khan
  • Julian Fyfe


In dairy farming, recirculation and continuous use of nutrients are necessary for sustainable nutrient management in both the short- and long-term. When managed effectively, nutrient recycling can improve soil fertility. On the other hand, if applied nutrients are in excess of the soil’s nutrient holding capacity, nutrients can enter surface and ground water bodies resulting in eutrophication. Phosphorus (P) characterisation in manure, pond sludge and crust, in terms of plant availability, is the first step to sustainably manage nutrients within dairy farms. In this study, pond sludge and crust were characterised for P using a sequential fractionation method. Pond sludge and crust contained significant amounts of labile P. Water extractable P (H2O-P) in primary anaerobic pond and secondary facultative pond sludges was found to be about 8 to 13 times higher than the amount found in the surface soil (0–10 cm) of a grazing paddock. Similarly, sodium bicarbonate extractable P (NaHCO3-P) in the two types of sludges was found to be about 6 times higher than in the soil. The relatively higher labile P (H2O-P and NaHCO3-P) in sludge compared to soil indicates that the sludge can be utilised as a P fertilizer on grazing pasture. In contrast, lower H2O-P compared to that of raw manure indicates that the use of sludge and crust instead of raw manure can reduce the possibility of P loss by surface runoff and leaching. Hence, it is preferable to use pond sludge and crust as fertiliser instead of raw manure.


Pond sludge Sequential fractionation Labile P Stable P Dairy manure Fertiliser 



The authors wish to acknowledge Mr. Gregory Schofield of Schofield Holsteins for his continuous support and also technical staff and students of Environmental Engineering Lab.

Funding Information

This study was carried out with the support of School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics (SCEM), Western Sydney University.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computing Engineering and MathematicsWestern Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia
  2. 2.Biosecurity and Agriculture Services, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and ResourcesVictoriaAustralia

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