Spatiotemporal patterns of livestock manure nutrient production in the conterminous United States from 1930 to 2012

Qichun Yang, Hanqin Tian, Xia Li, Wei Ren, Bowen Zhang, Xuesong Zhang, Julie Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Manure nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from livestock husbandry are important components of terrestrial biogeochemical cycling. Assessment of the impacts of livestock manure on terrestrial biogeochemistry requires a compilation and analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of manure nutrients. In this study, we reconstructed county-level manure nutrient data of the conterminous United States (U.S.) in 4- to 5-year increments from 1930 to 2012. Manure N and P were 5.89±0.64TgNyr. -1 (Mean±Standard Deviation) and 1.73±0.29TgPyr. -1 (1Tg=10 12 g), and increased by 46% and 92% from 1930 to 2012, respectively. Prior to 1970, manure provided more N to the U.S. lands than chemical fertilizer use. Since 1970, however, increasing chemical N fertilizer use has exceeded manure N production. Manure was the primary P source in the U.S. during 1930-1969 and 1987-2012, but was lower than P fertilizer use in 1974, 1978, and 1982. High-nutrient-production regions shifted towards eastern and western areas of the U.S. Decreasing small farms and increasing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) induced concentrated spatial patterns in manure nutrient loads. Counties with cattle or poultry as the primary manure nutrient contributors expanded significantly from 1930 to 2012, whereas regions with sheep and hog as the primary contributors decreased. We identified regions facing environmental threats associated with livestock farming. Effective management of manure should consider the impacts of CAFOs in manure production, and changes in livestock population structure. The long-term county-level manure nutrient dataset provides improved spatial and temporal information on manure nutrients in the U.S. This dataset is expected to help advance research on nutrient cycling, ammonia volatilization, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock husbandry, recovery and reuse of manure nutrients, and impacts of livestock feeding on human health in the context of global change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1592-1602
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jan 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Livestock
  • Manure nutrients
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • United states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatiotemporal patterns of livestock manure nutrient production in the conterminous United States from 1930 to 2012'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this