Composting of spent pig litter at different seasonal temperatures in subtropical climate

S. M. Tiquia, N. F.Y. Tam, I. J. Hodgkiss

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To investigate the effects of seasonal temperatures on the composting of spent pig-manure sawdust litter (spent litter), two sets of experiments were carried out: one during winter, the other during summer. Physicochemical and microbial parameters including temperature, pH, inorganic N, humification indicators (HA and FA), heavy metals (Cu and Zn), total aerobic heterotrophs, ATP content and dehydrogenase activity were measured to understand changes in the spent litter during composting. Results demonstrated that the composting was faster during summer than winter. The spent litter during the summer trial reached maturity at day 56 whereas that of the winter trial was still immature at the end of composting (days 91). Microbial activities during the thermophilic stage of composting were much lower in the winter trial. Values began to increase during the latter part of composting, indicating that the spent litter in this winter trial was biologically unstable and must be further composted to reach full maturity. The changes in the microbial activities of the spent litter during summer or winter reflected the changes in their temperatures and chemical properties. The maturation of the spent litter during summer was accompanied by stabilization of the microbial and chemical properties and a drop in temperature to ambient level. Results of correlation analysis showed that temperature correlated not only with the microbial parameters but also with most of the chemical parameters. These parameters also correlated with each other. Among all the parameters measured, the trend of temperature changes is the simplest and most rapid parameter that can be used to evaluate the maturity of spent litter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Composting
  • Heavy metals
  • Humification indicators
  • Microbial activity
  • Pig manure


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