Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Matthew J. Scarborough, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Appala R. Badireddy, Ph.D.


biochar, manure lagoons, microbial community, greenhouse gas emissions, methane, volatile fatty acids


Manure management practices have the capacity to impact greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate resilient food systems. Previous studies have found that using biochar as a manure lagoon cap is effective for reducing odor and ammonia emissions, while simultaneously increasing methane emissions. However, it is unknown what other impacts biochar addition could have on manure lagoon sludge. This study assessed the impact of biochar enrichment on microbial community structure, nutrient degradation, and fermentation intermediates in manure lagoons. Additionally, analysis of these variables may provide insights into how biochar-enriched manure might enhance crop rhizosphere health, when land applied as a fertilizer. Six bioreactors were constructed; three were filled with only raw manure and the remaining three contained raw manure enriched with biochar. Headspace gas and manure samples were collected every week, for a total of twelve weeks. Gas chromatography, chemical analyses, and microbial metagenomic sequencing was performed on a range of samples. The results generated from this study suggest that fermentation intermediate concentrations, organic matter degradation, and methanogenic microbial populations are higher in biochar enriched manure samples. These results corroborate with the observed increase in methane emissions after week six of the experiment. One-way ANOVA statistical analyses were performed, where the methanogenic microbial community analysis results were of statistical significance. In the future, this study could be extended to investigate how biochar-enriched manure lagoon sludge impacts crop rhizosphere health and crop growth, when applied as a fertilizer.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.