A high proportion of plant nutrients present in animal feed are excreted and therefore animal manure can be an important source of nitrogen (N) for crop production if losses of plant nutrients to the environment during storage and processing are minimized. The present study examines gaseous N losses from stored pig slurry and during composting of solid manure as affected by protein and fibre content in the feed and manure management. Two slurry storage treatments (with and without cover) and three additives to solid manure composting (straw only, straw+lime and straw+superphosphate) were examined for three common types of pig feed in Vietnam (low-protein high-fibre, medium-protein medium-fibre and high-protein low-fibre).
Feed type was found to affect the N content in pig slurry or manure and thus potential N losses. The fraction of N loss caused by N emission from covered slurry storage was 0·25–0·30 of initial N content, while that from uncovered slurry was 0·60–0·70. After 90 days of storage, 1·15–1·20 times the initial ammonium-N (NH4-N) was found in the covered slurry and 0·40–0·50 in the uncovered. The fraction of N lost during composting with superphosphate was 0·25–0·35 of initial total N, while with lime or straw the total N loss was 0·45–0·55. With added superphosphate, 1·25–1·60 times the initial NH4-N in manure was found in the compost after 80 days compared with only 0·11–0·22 for lime and 0·22–0·36 for straw only. Covering stored slurry and addition of superphosphate when composting solid pig manure are thus important methods for Vietnamese farmers to minimize N losses and produce compost with a high content of plant-available N.