"Environment" research area

On-site Fungal Treatment to Remove Phosphorus from Animal Manure

Primary Investigator Bo Hu
Industry Partners Dennis Haubenschild Farms
Award Type: Demonstration Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Problem: Manure is often applied as a fertilizer to agricultural fields to supplement nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil. As the livestock industry trends towards more concentrated farming, higher levels of manure must be disposed of per acre of field. This leads to phosphorus accumulation in the soil because manure has a higher ratio of phosphorus to nitrogen than what is needed for plant growth. Excessive phosphorus causes eutrophication in lakes and rivers, which kills organisms living in the water.

Solution: Fungal treatment can recover phosphorus in manure, which would lower the phosphorus to nitrogen ratio to a more suitable level for field application. The Hu Lab will demonstrate this process at Haubenschild Farm to determine its cost-effectiveness at a commercial scale. MnDRIVE researchers will also investigate inexpensive methods to sterilize the manure, so the fungi can grow in place of pathogenic bacteria.

Impact: Fungal treatment of manure would mitigate the environmental impacts of agriculture by reducing phosphorus accumulation in fields. In addition, partially removing phosphorus from manure could produce a phosphorus-specific fertilizer byproduct and result in an additional form of revenue for agricultural facilities.