Treatment of Dairy Manure Effluent Using Freshwater Algae: Elemental Composition of Algal Biomass at Different Manure Loading Rates

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 1;52(24):7293-6. doi: 10.1021/jf0491759.


The cultivation of algae on nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in animal manure effluents presents an alternative to the current practice of land application. However, the use and value of the resulting algal biomass as a feed or soil supplement depend, in part, on whether the biomass contains any harmful components such as heavy metals. The objective of this study was to determine how the elemental composition of algae changed in response to different loading rates of anaerobically digested flushed dairy manure effluent. Algal biomass was harvested weekly from laboratory-scale algal turf scrubber (ATS) units using four manure loading rates (2, 4, 6, or 9 L m(-2) day(-1)) corresponding to daily loading rates of 0.8-3.7 g of total N and 0.12-0.58 g of total P. Mean N and P contents in the dried biomass increased 1.6-1.8-fold with increasing loading rate up to maximums of 6.5% N and 0.84% P at 6 L m(-2) day(-1). Concentrations of Al, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, and Zn showed similar 1.4-1.8-fold increases up to maximums at a loading rate of 6 L m(-2) day(-1), followed by plateaus or decreases above this loading rate. Concentrations of Cd, Mo, and Pb initially increased with loading rate but then declined to levels comparable to those at the lowest loading rate. Concentrations of Si and K did not increase significantly with loading rate. The maximum concentrations of individual components in the algal biomass were as follows (in mg kg(-)(1)): 1100 (Al), 9700 (Ca), 0.43 (Cd), 56 (Cu), 580 (Fe), 5.0 (Pb), 2300 (Mg), 240 (Mn), 3.0 (Mo), 14,700 (K), 210 (Si), and 290 (Zn). At these concentrations, heavy metals in the algal biomass would not be expected to reduce its value as a soil or feed amendment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Dairying*
  • Eukaryota / chemistry*
  • Eukaryota / metabolism*
  • Manure / analysis*
  • Metals / analysis
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Phosphorus / analysis


  • Manure
  • Metals
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen