Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 105–114 | Cite as

Greenhouse gas emissions when composting manure from cattle fed wheat dried distillers’ grains with solubles

  • X. Hao
  • M. Benke
  • F. J. Larney
  • T. A. McAllister
Original article


Dried distillers’ grains with solubles (DDGS) are a co-product of ethanol production that is increasingly available for use as a livestock feed. Including DDGS in diets could affect animal manure properties and impact manure management strategies. The objectives of this study were to investigate changes in the rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during composting and final properties of manure compost when DDGS is included in feedlot cattle diets. Treatments were: (1) Control; manure from cattle fed a typical finishing diet containing barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) grain and silage and (2) DDGS; manure from cattle fed a finishing diet with 60% DDGS from wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the dietary ration. Manure, consisting of feces, urine and wood shavings, was composted in open windrows. Samples were collected for analysis at initiation and completion of composting. Greenhouse gas surface fluxes were collected weekly during the first 4 weeks and every 2–3 weeks for the remainder of the composting period. The DDGS compost had lower total C, but similar total N (TN) content relative to Control, reflecting the initial manure conditions. The DDGS compost also had higher moisture, higher water-extractable NH 4 + and NO 3 , a greater fraction of TN in available form, and a lower pH than the Control. The O2 consumption and N2O emission from DDGS compost were higher, whereas CO2 and CH4 emissions were similar to Control. The higher N2O emissions from DDGS compost were likely related to the high water-extractable N content in DDGS manure. Increased use of DDGS in feedlot diets may have environmental repercussions that include greater emissions of GHG (N2O) during manure composting. From an end user perspective, enhanced availability of N could increase the nutrient value of the compost for crop production.


Methane Nitrous oxide Open windrow composting Beef feedlot manure Wheat dried distillers’ grains Carbon Nitrogen 



This project was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the AAFC—ABIP program. Technical assistance was provided by G. Travis, B. Hill, P. Caffyn, A. Olson and C. Gilbertson. This is LRC contribution number 38710008.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • X. Hao
    • 1
  • M. Benke
    • 1
  • F. J. Larney
    • 1
  • T. A. McAllister
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research CentreLethbridgeCanada

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