Evaluation of calcium cyanamide addition during co-composting of manure and maize straw in a forced-aeration static-pile system
© The Author(s). 2016
Received: 15 December 2015
Accepted: 3 October 2016
Published: 26 October 2016
Composting is one of the most environmentally friendly treatments to inactivate pathogenic organisms or reduce them to acceptable levels. However, even under thermal conditions, some pathogenic organisms such as E. coli could exist for a long time in composting. Such great persistence may increase the possibility of outbreaks of these organisms and further increase the environmental load. Calcium cyanamide (CaCN2) has recently been recognized to have the fungicidal effect on the pathogens of the soilborne diseases. So, the present study determined the effect of CaCN2 addition on composting progress as an antimicrobial agent and an amendment during forced-aeration static-pile composting of cow manure, which was mainly aimed to inhibit the pathogens that had not been inactivated by heat during composting.
The mixtures of dairy cow manure and maize straw with addition of 2 % CaCN2 or no addition were composted for 63 days. The physical, chemical and biological changes in compost mixtures were examined during composting. The data were statistically analyzed using ANOVA procedure from SAS software (version 9.0).
The results showed that the addition of CaCN2 significantly increased the maximum temperature and lengthened the duration of the thermophilic phase, and increased the percent T-N but decreased C/N ratio. For microbiological test, the addition of CaCN2 shortened the time to inactivate E. coli, and increased the total average population of thermophilic bacteria but did not significantly influence that of mesophilic bacteria.
The results indicated that the addition of CaCN2, at least at the additive content of 2 % could benefit the thermophilic phase and the composting could quickly reach the sanitary standard during the composting of manure with maize straw in a forced-aeration static-pile system. This finding will contribute to solve the feces disposal problems.
KeywordsCalcium cyanamide Antimicrobial agent Manure Composting Pathogen
Cattle manure, a valuable resource because of its nutrient and organic matter contents, is used as a soil fertilizer and represents a low-cost alternative to mineral fertilizers . However, if the appropriate treatment methods are not carried out, manures would become solid wastes rather than valued resources. Serious environmental problems, such as an excessive input of potentially harmful trace metals, inorganic salts and animal pathogens would develop because of inappropriate disposal practices [2, 3].
Composting is not only the most efficient process to produce an agronomically advantageous soil organic amendment, but also one of the most environmentally friendly treatments to inactivate pathogenic organisms or reduce them to acceptable levels [4, 5]. Minimally managed composting processes can reduce E. coli and other pathogens in bovine manure [6, 7]. But the survival of the pathogens is greatly different in different systems, for example, in some composting systems even under thermal conditions, some strains of pathogens could exist for a long time or recover after some days. Such persistence increases the likelihood of disease outbreak and further increases the environmental load. Therefore, it is necessary to produce more reliable and realistic methods feasible in both sanitation and recycling of manure.
Calcium cyanamide (CaCN2) has mostly been used as a nitrogen fertilizer for a long time. However, some studies have found its fungicidal effect on the pathogens of the soilborne diseases. The CaCN2 effectively suppressed Fusarium solani f.sp. cucurbitae in greenhouse cucumber , and was also fungicidal to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. Cucumberinum . However, very little is known about its effect on zoonotic microorganisms. Our previous study showed that manure composting would quickly reach the sanitary standard and the quality of the composting products would be improved with the addition of CaCN2 during mesophilic composting at laboratory scale . On the basis of previous work, the present research further studied the effect of CaCN2 addition on minimally managed composting progress during co-composting of manure and maize straw in a forced-aeration static-pile system. The evaluation of CaCN2 effect in different composting system will allow us to broaden our knowledge about its use in composting. Therefore, the two major objectives of this study were (a) to assess the antimicrobial effect of CaCN2 during the minimally composting of cattle manure with maize straw and (b) to evaluate its effect on composting process as an amendment during the minimally composting of cattle manure with maize straw.
Composting trial was conducted on a cow farm of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China in autumn (from September to mid-November). Fresh manure of dairy cows which were apparently healthy but had been confirmed to carry pathogenic E. coli with serogroups of O1, O6, O8, O9, O78, O98 and O149 in their gastrointestinal tracts was collected and mixed with maize straw (bulking agent). Composting was conducted on a concrete apron, subdivided into two separate compartments, each with floor dimensions 120 × 120 cm. Compartments were isolated from each other by 120 cm high walls, and were all unroofed. Perforated polyvinylchloride (PVC) pipes segregated from the compost piles by closely spaced parallel boards were used at the bottom of compartments to supply adequate oxygen (supplied by a blower), and to maintain uniform mixing. The air supply was provided from the 4th day of the composting. The air-flow rate was 0.5 m3 · min−1 during the first 2 weeks and then became 0.25 m3 · min−1. Maize straw was laid 5 cm thick over the boards in order to distribute air equally. And to ensure that all areas of the compostable material were exposed to the required temperature, each pile was covered with a plastic film. Compost piles contained about 500 kg compostable mixtures per compartment at the beginning of each experiment, and were maintained in a roughly conical shape during composting. The piles were classified into test pile and control pile. Solid CaCN2 was thoroughly mixed with the test pile at the mixing rate of 2 % by weight, while was not added to the control pile. The mixing rate was based on the previous study, which had showed that manure composting process would not be influenced by the addition of both 2 and 3 % CaCN2 during mesophilic composting at laboratory scale . Compost samples in duplicate were collected from each pile by using quartering process at days 0, 1, 3, 4, 9, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, and 63 for the analysis of different parameters.
Ambient temperature around the compost bins and temperatures within each pile was measured daily at 9:00 AM and 15:00 PM. Daily temperature of the pile was the average temperature of the top, middle and bottom layer in the two measurements. The moisture contents of the samples were determined after oven drying at 105 °C to a constant weight . The pH was determined by a Mettler-Toledo EL20 pH-meter (Mettler-Toledo international trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.). Total nitrogen (T-N) and total carbon (T-C) was measured by kjeldahl method and K2Cr2O7 volumetric method . Total phosphorus (T-P) was recovered by sulfuric acid-hydrogen peroxide digestion according to Chinese national standard NY/T 298-1995.
Seed germination test
Plate counting was performed to determine the populations of fecal indicator bacteria E. coli, thermophilic (TB) and mesophilic bacteria (MB) within compost piles. E. coli was investigated from eosin-methylene blue agar (EMB) plates and confirmed by Indole Test . Mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria were enumerated on nutrient agar after incubating for 24 h at 30 and 50 °C, respectively.
Results and discussion
Physical and chemical analyses
The moisture contents of all piles presented the same changes that followed a declining trend. The mean moisture content of the test pile decreased from an initial value of 70.97 to 60.71 %. In the control pile, it decreased from 75.28 to 58.86 %. Water availability is a critical determinant of microbial activity during composting . Several studies reported that the moisture content in fed-batch composting of household biowaste was 30–40 %, at which the microorganisms showed the highest protease activity [24, 25]. Nelson et al.  suggested a possible threshold between 50 and 60 % moisture content during cattle manure composting, which has a potential to achieve the best temperature profile and save the energy required to turn the windrows. Many other observations also recommended 50–60 % as the preferred moisture content range during composting [27–29]. Klasse  pointed out that the moisture content was one of the important determinants of the decomposition efficiency of CaCN2 in soil. Our previous study showed that the elimination of pathogenic E. coli by CaCN2 during manure composting was most effective in 85 % moisture content condition and was followed by in 65 %. In 45 % moisture content, pathogenic E. coli could not be thoroughly inactivated. Based on such result, we aimed to adjust the moisture content of the test pile to 70 % to guarantee both a smooth process for composting and better development for inhibitory effect of CaCN2 on E. coli.
At the first stage of composting, the values of the GI are often low because of the inhibitory effect of excessive NH4 + on the seed germination, but the GI always follows an increasing trend with the proceeding of composting . The result of our current and previous study showed a similar trend . The high value of the GI from the thermophilic phase can be explained by a great reduction of phytotoxic substances. During the cooling phase, the GI continues to increase and generally obtains its highest value with the occurrence of stable organic matter, and the enrichment of humic substances and nutrients . The fall of the GI at the end of composting can be partly explained by the action of phytotoxic substances, and by the high ionic charge of the water-soluble extracts and their electrical conductivity which may cause osmotic effects. This effect is caused particularly by the concentration of mineral elements such as Cu and Zn, which showed an inhibitory effect on germination [32, 44].
Mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria
The time to reach the high temperatures was delayed but the maximum temperature increased and the duration of the thermophilic phase was lengthened with the addition of CaCN2.
The environment suitable for composting process was not influenced by the addition of CaCN2.
The addition of CaCN2 increased the percent T-N but decreased C/N ratio during composting.
With the addition of CaCN2, the phytotoxicity of the composting was decreased.
The time to entirely inactivate E. coli in the composting could be shortened through adding 2 % CaCN2 into the compostable substrate.
- CaCN2 :
Eosin-methylene blue agar
This work was supported by the Major Special Project of National Dairy Industry of China (grant number 2006BAD04A15), the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (grant number 202183), and the National Natural Science Funds, China (grant number 31060318).
The financial support in this study was mostly from the National Natural Science Funds, China (grant number 31060318). The Major Special Project of National Dairy Industry of China (grant number 2006BAD04A15) and the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (grant number 202183) provided the support for writing the manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
The datasets during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
HS and CA are the main investigators, performed all experimental work and paper writing, CJW carried out data analysis, THZ carried out statistical analysis, BM provided all essential supports. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Ethics approval and consent to participate
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