Alternative Management Systems of Beef Cattle Manure for Reducing Nitrogen Loadings: A Case-Study Approach
College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
Department of Economics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
National Center of International Joint Research of Bioenergy Science and Technology, College of Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
College of Economics, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing 100048, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Stefan Gunnarson
Received: 20 December 2020 / Revised: 29 January 2021 / Accepted: 18 February 2021 / Published: 23 February 2021
Livestock manure is one of the primary sources of agricultural nonpoint source pollution and poses a great threat to the environment and human health. Sustainable management of manure via recycling is an effective means to tackle the problem. Based on field interviews in China, four alternative manure management systems were investigated: Compost-based systems, product-based systems, substrate-based systems, and biogas-based systems. For each system, the reasons of emergence, success factors, risk factors, operation mechanism, scalability, key elements, and environmental effects were discussed. Results showed that the adoption of a system is driven by various factors and market-oriented operation is the dominant operation mechanism of all the manure management systems. Compared to direct application of manure to croplands, all the manure management systems can reduce nitrogen loadings from livestock farms and lower their environmental effects. Specifically, biogas-based systems can reduce nitrogen loadings to the greatest extent, followed by product-based systems and substrate-based systems, and then by compost-based systems. Integrated management of manure with mixed recycling systems is imperative for reducing its environmental effects, which can benefit from the increasing role of third-party entities in manure recycling. Policy implications were also discussed.