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LOW-TECH OPTIONS FOR CHICKEN

MANURE TREATMENT AND


APPLICATION POSSIBILITIES IN
AGRICULTURE
H. ROEPER, S. KHAN, I. KOERNER AND R. STEGMANN
Department of Waste Management, Hamburg University of Technology TUHH,
Harburger Schlossstrasse 36, 21079 Hamburg, Germany

SUMMARY: Problems related to chicken manure disposal are a relevant issue in many countries
of Asia due to the constantly increasing demand for chicken products. An application without
treatment or non-appropriate disposal can become risky for environment and humans. Simple
treatment techniques which convert the manure into valuable fertilizer are needed. A low-tech
option is currently under development at Hamburg University of Technology. It is a simple
approach for the production of manure pellets within a small vessel which is equipped with
stirrers. By adjusting the parameters moisture content, rotation speed, aeration and temperature,
pellets of almost spherical shape can be formed within hours. Pelletising should be combined
with a further treatment step including drying and hygienising. In this work pellet properties
were analysed with respect to important application parameters for a fertilizer such as nutrient
content. Distribution properties were characterised by a strength test and by analysing the shape
of the pellets. The work was carried out in frame of the ASIA-PRO-ECO project
CHIMATRA, financed by the European Union and the City of Hamburg.
1. INTRODUCTION
Problems related to chicken manure disposal are a relevant issue in many countries of Asia due
to the constantly increasing demand for chicken products. The poultry population in result is
increasing constantly. In West-Malaysia the chicken population increased by a third within the
years 2000 to 2001 (Anonymous 2004).
The problem coming along with the poultry production is the manure that needs to be taken
care of. A non-appropriate treatment or disposal can become risky for environment and humans;
for instance it can support the spread of diseases and may pollute soil and groundwater.
Currently no legislation regarding chicken breeding is in force and small-scale manure
treatment systems are needed to reduce the odour nuisance and the hygienical risk that is
generated from chicken manure. Furthermore there is a rising demand on fertilizer that is needed
on various plantations so that organic and inorganic fertilizers are imported into Asia. To solve
this problem simple treatment techniques which convert the manure into valuable fertilizer are
needed.

Proceedings Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium
S. Margherita di Pula, Cagliari, Italy; 3 - 7 October 2005
2005 by CISA, Environmental Sanitary Engineering Centre, Italy

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

2. MANURE GENERATION AND POTENTIAL AS A FERTILIZER


2.1 Manure generation in Asia
In Asian countries a high number of small-scale chicken farms exist without controlled
husbandry and treatment options for the manure. In general the size of chicken farms ranges
from 1000 to more than a million birds per farm (Glenn, 1998). Most common in Asian countries
are small farms with less than 10.000 birds. Figure 1 shows the allocation of farms representative
for West Malaysia. With increasing size, better and more modern logistics and housing systems
are being used on the farms. Modern farms are also equipped with biosecurity systems to avoid
the infection with potential bird diseases.
Along with the increasing production of chicken, the amount of chicken excrements is also
rising. The daily manure production of a laying hen can be estimated with 138g/day (25% dry
substance) and 90 g/day (40% dry substance) of a broiler (Burton & Turner, 2003). Manure can
be classified in solid, slurry and wastewater (Haga, 2001). Chicken manure is commonly
collected in a solid form and also mixed with bedding material and other residues from the
chicken production.
2.2 Value added potential of chicken manure
All kinds of manure but especially chicken manure are rich in nutrients. A composition for
chicken manure based on a survey giving average values for Europe is given in table 1. The
numbers in literature differ depending on which country the manure has been sampled. In
addition other nutrient values can be found for potassium, magnesium and sulphur as well as
other micronutrients.

Figure 1. Number and size of chicken farms in Pedang State, Malaysia (Faculty of
Environmental Studies, UPM, 2004)

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

Table 1. Nutrient composition of poultry manure (Burton & Turner, 2003, modified)
Total N

Ammonia N

Phosphorus P2O5

Layers (solid manure)

2,00% DS

0,91% DS

1,38% DS

Broilers (solid manure)

1,57% DS

0,53% DS

1,23% DS

The amount of manure currently applied to crop land varies considerably between regions and
countries. Poultry manure is primarily spread to arable crops (Burton and Turner, 2003). Direct
land application of untreated manure is the most common utilization option, but it can result in
environmental pollution of waters, odour nuisance and hygienic problems which can support the
spread of diseases (Glenn 1998). The following treatment methods relevant for land application
of poultry manure are currently being used: drying, composting, anaerobic digestion,
combustion, pasteurization and pelletizing.
1.3 Proposed concept for chicken manure treatment
Even though there are many market available treatment options for chicken manure, there is a
need for a reliable low tech option since the number of chicken grown on small scale farms is
steadily increasing. This is especially valid for the Asian market due to the increasing demand
for organic fertilizers. The demanded technology should transform the manure into a valuable
fertilizer product keeping the existing nutrients within the product. The following parameters are
desired:
suitable for storing and transporting
common application on farmland need to be possible with already existing equipment
odour reduction
cost efficiency
The proposed concept is a simple approach for the production of pellets in a drum equipped with
stirrers to form pellets. By adjusting the parameters moisture content, rotation speed, aeration
and temperature, pellets of almost spherical shape can be formed within hours. A further
treatment step includes drying and hygienising of the pellets. The basic functional efficiency of
the pelletizing equipment has already been determined by Trevino-Garza (2003). This work
focuses on optimisation aspects of the original process and additional aspects relevant to land
application.

2. MATERIALS AND METHODS


2.1 Substrate characteristics
The chicken manure has been collected from a farm with 11.000 laying hens (Hhnerhof
Schneke, Germany). The building is equipped with a belt collector that is clearing the barns
permanently and the manure is put on a pile afterwards. Since also bedding material is being
used at site, straw can be found within the manure as well as feathers. Samples for experiments
have been taken out of the pile from different depths and mixed to assure a representative
composition. The mixture has been stored in a sealed bin afterwards. The moisture content of the
manure was in between 47.6% to 65.0% at the beginning of the experiments.

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

2.2 Experimental setup


The device used for pelletizing the chicken manure consists of a cylindrical glass drum with a
total volume of 5.4 litres. It is equipped with stirrers to turn the manure. Three drums are
attached to one engine which can be run at variable speed. Additionally aeration of the drums is
possible through an inlet for fresh air and an outlet for exhaust air. A larger sealed opening
allows the addition of amendments such as water, woodchips or lime. Figure 3 shows the
complete experimental setup. In Figure 4 the equipped workbench is being displayed.

Figure 3. Experimental Setup of a pelletizing drum equipped with stirrers

Figure 4. Laboratory setup of the complete workbench including three drums on one engine

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

Table 2. Conditions for pelletizing and varied parameters (drum input)


dry

wet

manure manure
content

A1

moisture moisture
of wet

of dry

content manure manure

[g]

[g]

[%]

[%]

580

1180

47.60

15.50

moisture
mixture
[%]

37.02

vol of
reactor
filled
[%]
*50

added
rotation
speed
[rpm]

rotation areation aeration


time [h]

[l/h]

time [h]

volume
additive

of
additive
[ml or g]

14

48

60

water

total
moisture
content
[%]

60 ml

40.43

woodA2

1340

47.60

15.50

47.60

*40

14

48

60

chips

40,2 g

47.60

C1

320

480

48.00

14

34.40

8.25

18

22

80

20

water

60 ml

41.90

C2

300

450

48.00

14

34.40

8.00

18

22

80

20

water

60 ml

42.40

C3

320

480

60.00

9.25

39.70

8.25

18

26

80

24

water

20 ml

42.20

C4

320

480

60.00

9.25

39.70

8.25

18

26

80

24

water

20 ml

42.20

C5

320

480

65.00

13.00

44.20

8.25

18

96

80

72

water

30 ml

47.95

s1

C6

320

480

65.00

13.00

44.20

8.25

18

96

80

72

water

30 ml

47.95

D1

289

586

65.00

24.00

51.46

11.58

54

100

48

water

20 ml

53.74

D2

289

586

65.00

24.00

51.46

11.58

54

50-80

48

0 ml

51.46

E1

313

636

58.58

9.44

42.37

12.87

41

120

12

water

35 ml

46.06

E2

289

586

58.58

9.44

42.35

11.58

68

60

24

water

20 ml

44.64

F1

289

586

52.68

9.83

38.53

11.58

98

100

51

water

60 ml

45.38

F2

305

586

52.68

9.83

38.01

12.00

72

100

24

water

30 ml

41.38

G1

297

528

56.38

8.76

39.24

11.00

28

100

water

20 ml

41.66

G2

297

528

56.38

8.76

39.24

11.00

28

100

water

25 ml

42.27

H1

297

528

57.12

8.76

39.71

11.00

29

100

water

20 ml

42.13

H2

297

528

57.12

8.76

39.71

11.00

29

100

water

15 ml

41.53

H3

297

528

61.00

11.20

43.07

11.00

44

80

24

0 ml

43.07

s2

s2

crushed sundried manure was used in H1


* = volume including airvoid volume
s2
s1

= reactor with solid steel stirrers

= reactor with angular steel

stirrers

= reactor with plastic stirrers

To achieve maximal collision of particles within the drum, the stirrers had to be modified and
two different stirrer configurations have been tested. Also three different stirrer materials have
been taken into account: plastic, solid steel and perforated steel.
The moisture content of the manure samples are within the range of 47.6% to 65.0% which is
too wet for a successful agglomeration procedure. To lower the moisture content, manure has
been dryed in an oven at 35C to simulate drying equivalent to natural sun-drying. Afterwards
fresh manure has been mixed with the dryed manure to achieve the desired moisture content. The
conditions under which the experiments have been carried out are given in table 2.

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


3.1 Pelletizing experiments
The results of the experiments regarding weight, diameter and moisture content of the final
pellets are shown in Table 3. Furthermore a mass balance has been carried out. The major
problem that occurred during the first tests was, that most of the manure material kept sticking
with the stirrers, hence the formation of pellets did not occur. Further tests did improve the
situation. In test G1, 85% of the manure has been transformed to pellets. In all tests it was not
possible to transform the complete input-material into pellets.
To display the relation between pellet weight and diameter, series G1 is exemplarily shown in
Figure 5. Achived pellet diameters mostly range between 4 to 8 mm. Some single pellets form
bigger diameters due to disturbances in the manure such as stones or other solid particles.
The following parameters have been evaluated during the experiments:
Moisture content
The moisture content of the substrate had the most intense impact on the agglomerate
formation. With a moisture content above 45% which usually is the case in chicken manure
the substrate was not turned appropriately and always ended up sticking at the stirrers or the
reactor walls. Best results were obtained using a lower moisture content of 38%-44%. Faster
formation of pellets has been observed with a lower moisture content as well.
Speed of rotation
Best results have been achieved with a rotation speed of 8 rpm. Using faster turning speed up
to 18 rpm has been evaluated as well but did not support the process of agglomeration.
Table 3. Results of the pellet production (drum output)
mass balance
pellets weight [g]
A1

material stuck with


paddles/wall [g]
1760

pellets average

pellets average pellet moisture

diameter [mm]

weight [g]

content [%]

A2

1340

C1

not calculated

not calculated

6,65

0,485

36,06

C2

not calculated

not calculated

7,83

0,612

35,05

C3

not calculated

not calculated

6,8

0,44

39,56

C4

not calculated

not calculated

0,76

38,98

D1

847

D2

283

553

7,66

0,59

24,9

E1

923

E2

483

351

5,41

0,39

41,46

F1

517

318

6,23

0,39

38,95

F2

153

680

4,89

0,16

33,98

G1

581

89

6,59

0,50

40,01

G2

417

186

6,65

0,40

40,53

H1

663

153

6,20

0,31

37,4

H2

570

244

6,62

0,33

37,31

H3

680

118

5,95

0,29

38,78

Pellets with diameter higher than 15mm not included in mass balance as well as evaporation losses

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

Figure 5. Relation between pellet weight and diameter, results from series G1

Filling volume
Filling volume from 9% (without airvoids) to 52% (including airvoids) of the total drum
volume have been investigated. Best results have been achieved with a filling volume of 11%
in test G.
Aeration
The purpose of aeration during the pelletizing was to reduce the moisture content during
pellet formation. Rates of 60 to 100 l/h have been applied to the drums. In series C aeration
resulted in crumbling of the pellets before reaching their final shape and the manure grinded
into powder. In series F1 to H3 aeration did not effect the pelletising, but helped to reduce
the moisture content (100 l/h at no longer time than 6h out of 29h total).
Rotation time
Treatment times of 22h to 96h have been investigated. The time necessary for pelletizing the
manure should be as short as possible. Good results have been achieved with a treatment
time of approximately 24h (series G-H).
Stirrer Material
Plastic, solid steel and perforated steel stirrers have been constructed to find out the optimal
material properties. It was observed that flat materials (plastic and steel) result in sticking of
the manure to the stirrers and only perforated materials seem suitable to work as a pelleting
stirrer.

3.2 Further investigations


Since the major goal of pelletizing manure is a useful application in agriculture further
investigation with the final pellets have been done. After the pelletizing process, the pellets were
still moist and have been oven-dryed at 35C for 24h. The intention was to make the product
storable and maintain the given shape until being used on farmland. A good organic fertilizer
should be dense enough to pass through a disc spreader without grinding to powder. When
applied to farmland it should decompose and release available nutrients to the crops. To declare
the quality of the pellets a strength test and a nutrient analysis have been carried out.

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

Figure 6. Maximum strength applied to pellets of the series G1 (range from 0.1kN to 0.28kN)
3.2.1 Strengh test
For estimating the strength an increasing force has been applied to selected pellets. This
experiment has been done with the equipment used for unconfined compression test as being
used in soil mechanics. The point of the first cracking determines the maximum force that can be
applied. The maximum force has been recorded and can be used as an indicator for comparing
pellets. It has to be considered, that this test method can only be used for determining a range
only, since the pellets only have similar properties and are not alike.
The maximum force applicable to a pellet was 28 kg. Results for the pellets of the series G1
are shown in figure 6. The pellets from this series were able to take loads from 10kg (min.) to
28kg (max.). Further investigation and application studies will show if the agglomerated pellets
are dense enough to be applied with common equipment.
3.2.2 Laboratory analysis of the pellets
To evaluate the fertilizer value of the final pellets the total N content was measured using a
B323 N-analyser for wet samples and a CNS analyser for dry samples. In figure 7 average results
out of three samples are presented for the three stages of the treatment process: raw (undried)
chicken manure, pellets after agglomerates have been formed and pellets after oven drying. First
results show that the total-N content has been reduced during the process of agglomeration and
also to a lower extent during drying. About 75% of the total nitrogen contained in the input
material remains within the pellets. Continuing experiments will be carried out to determine the
amount of nitrogen available for plants as well as other nutrient values within these three stages.

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

Figure 7: Total nitrogen [DS] and moisture content during the process

5. CONCLUSIONS AND OUTLOOK


Pelletizing chicken manure on a low-tech basis is possible, but the conditions have to be well
adjusted. After successful agglomeration the pellets need to be dried in a second treatment step.
The final product appears to be storable and a shape that is easy to handle can be achieved. The
pellet density and strength is not as high as in extruder pressed pellets, but it seems possible to
use the pellets in common fertilizer spreading machinery on field. The next step will be to
upscale the system and process larger amounts of pellets to do further experiments on a technical
scale. For application experiments a minimum amount of 100kg is needed to produce reliable
results.
It is also promising that 75% of the total nitrogen remains within the pellets. Experiments
using plants will help to determine the fertilizer value of the pellets.
Regarding the application of this technology in Asian regions, experiments have to be made
taking the different climatic conditions within Asian countries into account. Due to the current
problem of avian influenza it is also eligible to optimise the drying step within the treatment
method to destroy possible pathogens within the manure by high temperatures.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Since June 1st, 2004 a joint project between Hamburg University of Technology, Department of
Waste Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Faculty of Environmental Studies and
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Agrotechnology and Food Innovations is being
carried out under scope of the EU program ASIA-PRO-ECO. The project focuses on the disposal
of untreated manure in South-East Asia and should strengthen the environmental dialogue
between Europe and Asia.

Sardinia 2005, Tenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium

We would like to thank the European Union and the city of Hamburg, Behoerde fuer
Wissenschaft und Forschung for financing the project and the good cooperation.
More information about ASIA-PRO-Eco and the CHIMATRA Project can be found on
www.chimatra.com.

REFERENCES
Anonymous (2004) Jabatan Perkhitmatan Haiwan Department of Veterinary Services,
Malaysia web: agrolink.moa.my/jph
Anonymous (2004) UPM Faculty of Environmental Studies, list of chicken farms, being
produced for the CHIMATRA project, unpublished
Burton, C.H.; Turner C. (2003): Manure Management Treatment Strategies for Sustainable
Agiculture, 2nd Edition, ISBN: 0 9531282 6 1
Glenn J. (1998) 300,000,000 Tons of Manure, BioCycle, January, Vol.39, Iss.1, pp.47-50
Haga, K. (2001): Managing Manure on Japanese Livestock and Poultry Farms, BioCycle, June,
Vol.42, Iss.4, pp.66
Khan, S. (2005) Pelletizing of chicken manure, project work at the Department of Waste
Management, Hamburg University of Technology TUHH, unpublished
Koerner, I.; Trevino-Garza, E.; Stegmann R. (2003) Concepts for the treatment of chicken
manure: Investigations regarding the production of agglomerats, Proceedings of ORBIT 2003,
pp. 805-817