A simple method to identify areas of environmental risk due to manure application

Environ Monit Assess. 2012 Jun;184(6):3915-28. doi: 10.1007/s10661-011-2233-1. Epub 2011 Aug 3.


The management of swine manure is becoming an important environmental issue in Chile. One option for the final disposal of manure is to use it as a biofertilizer, but this practice could impact the surrounding environment. To assess the potential environmental impacts of the use of swine manure as a biofertilizer, we propose a method to identify zones of environmental risk through indices. The method considers two processes: nutrient runoff and solute leaching, and uses available information about soils, crops and management practices (irrigation, fertilization, and rotation). We applied the method to qualitatively assess the environmental risk associated with the use of swine manure as a biofertilizer in an 8,000-pig farm located in Central Chile. Results showed that the farm has a moderate environmental risk, but some specific locations have high environmental risks, especially those associated with impacts on areas surrounding water resources. This information could assist the definition of better farm-level management practices, as well as the preservation of riparian vegetation acting as buffer strips. The main advantage of our approach is that it combines qualitative and quantitative information, including particular situations or field features based on expert knowledge. The method is flexible, simple, and can be easily extended or adapted to other processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollution / analysis
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Fertilizers*
  • Manure*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Fertilizers
  • Manure