A scientific trial assessing the anaerobic digestion of various cow bedding materials in slurry has concluded that gypsum produced the highest level of life-threatening hydrogen sulphide gas when compared to three other others.
The trial, undertaken by Centre for Process Innovation, has shown that the type of cow bedding has a major influence of the production of hydrogen sulphide gas produced from slurry which has caused the deaths of farmers and dairy cows.
The trial evaluated gasses produced from slurry when gypsum, lime ash, straw/sawdust and Envirobed were used in cow cubicles. In addition, it was noted that slurry carrying lime ash had a very high pH which also affected gas production.
“The aim of the trial was to determine the anaerobic biodegradability of different bedding materials when blended with slurry. The addition of bedding material to slurry can affect both the production of hydrogen sulphide and the specific methane yield,” said CPI’s David Wall.
“From a farmer’s perspective, the use of Envirobed and straw and/or straw or sawdust would seem to be the safest bedding option compared with using gypsum or lime.
“The use of gypsum as a bedding emits much higher levels of hydrogen sulphide. The addition of lime ash has a significant impact on the pH of the slurry store and must be used carefully to avoid system stability. Lime ash also seems to have an adverse impact on gas production.”
CPI noted that farmers with anaerobic digestion system were less likely to inhibit profits from feed in tariffs when Envirobed was used as a bedding.
The trial was instigated by Envirosystems, manufacturers of Envirobed. “We’ve already seen how the safety of farmers, their families, staff and their stock is seriously put at risk and can have fatal consequences when gypsum is used as a cow bedding and ends up in the slurry store.
“This trial proves how important it is for dairy farmers to consider the material they use for bedding cubicles and the dangerous levels of hydrogen sulphide gas be produced from the lethal combination of gypsum and slurry,” said Liz Russell, managing director of Lancashire-based Envirosystems.
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