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Mahmoud Sharara

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist

Weaver Administration Bldg 202

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Grants

Date: 01/01/22 - 12/31/24
Amount: $268,342.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Justice (NCDOJ)

This project addresses the challenges of concentrated manure volumes in hot-spots across NC, limited agricultural land base to accept these nutrients, and the adverse environmental impacts of manure management. We are proposing a the development of a framework to plan sustainable recycling and export of manure nutrients to preserve and restore air, soil, and water resources across the state of North Carolina. This project will leverage datasets, models, and regulations governing manure across NC to develop an alternative supply-chain for manure management to attain beneficial outcomes to the environment, economy, and society. This goal will be accomplished through the following objectives: (1) developing spatially-explicit datasets to quantify and characterize manure associated with different swine and poultry farm types, (2) developing models for upgrading and treatment technologies applicable to these manures, (3) developing technical/economic models to model performance of each technology alone or coupled, and (4) establishing a logistics optimization framework that integrate spatially-explicit residue datasets with compatible upgrading and recycling technologies.

Date: 02/15/19 - 2/14/24
Amount: $475,600.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

This project will address the food animal production industry’s need for professionals and extension specialists who possess the skills needed to thrive in today’s data-rich world. The long-term goal of this project is to meet increasing meat demands across the global market through sustainable intensification, thereby also broadening export opportunities for American meat producers. To meet this goal and address a critical shortage of personnel who are data analytics-aware, the food animal production workforce needs to be modernized with professionals and extension specialists who possess data literacy and holistic problem-solving skills. We will create a 10-week summer program dedicated to supplying the workforce with students trained in these three proficiency areas. This summer program, titled the Pigs, Poultry, the Planet, and data-driven Problem Solving (P4) Summer Fellowship Program, will prepare undergraduate students for contemporary careers in food animal production, and specifically target the swine and poultry production industries.

Date: 08/27/21 - 8/26/23
Amount: $65,491.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE)

Manure generates high amounts of ammonia which can escape as a gas and creates huge environmental and health problems. In North Carolina, this problem is particularly acute since most grain is imported to the state to feed swine and the quantity of nutrients is too high to use beneficially in the limited crop area available. Thus, sludge and high levels of nutrients accumulate in the 3,000 plus lagoons. This project will assess an acidification technology for swine manure effluent at farm-scale and develop techno-economic assessment to evaluate cost, benefit, and value of this technology to the farm as well as the community and the environment.

Date: 07/01/19 - 6/30/23
Amount: $299,803.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

Improving Lagoon Sludge Management in Lagoon-Sprayfield Swine Production Facilities

Date: 03/01/22 - 2/28/23
Amount: $10,854.00
Funding Agencies: NC Pork Council

Soil phosphorus (P) levels have increased over the past few decades in NC, with less than 10% of soil samples submitted from major swine production counties to NCDA&CS needing P (unpublished data from NCDA&CS). With sludge cleanouts becoming more frequent, the industry is looking for land to receive these materials and alternative strategies for transport out of the production region. Methods of sludge treatment that are of current interest are sludge drying and composting because removal of water is a necessity to increase sludge transport. New sludge drying efforts from the Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center show promise in providing a management option for NC swine producers, and this method creates an organic P product that could be easily shipped to other areas. However, it’s unknown how the drying process affects P availability and how this stacks up to other P fertilizer sources. Therefore, we propose a greenhouse study to further investigate this product in four potential receiving crops.

Date: 03/01/21 - 2/28/23
Amount: $6,992.00
Funding Agencies: North Carolina Dairy Producers Association (NCDPA)

Mortality disposal is a growing problem for dairy and cattle producers, especially in rapidly developing areas where the general population comes into contact with the realities of animal production. Composting is a promising options to overcome this challenge. In composting, the animal is placed in a pile or windrow of organic material including a carbon source (wood chips) and sometimes a source of nitrogen (such as dairy waste solids). This controlled research project will help us to develop and provide recommendations for mortality composting practices that are effective, practical, and environmentally safe. This will be accomplished by setting up a cattle mortality composting trial at Cherry Research Station (Goldsboro, NC) in 2021. This trial will run in tandem with a similar cattle composting trial at Piedmont Research Station (Salisbury, NC) (Funded through NC Cattlemen’s Association). Combined, the two composting tests will generate a robust set of data to incorporate the impact of climate (rainfall, temperature) and soil type on the degree of mortality degradation via composting and the migration of nutrients downward to and through the soil profile.

Date: 04/15/21 - 10/14/22
Amount: $18,826.00
Funding Agencies: Virginia Pork Council

This project addresses a critical need to swine producers using anaerobic lagoons. This need is sludge processing and off-farm export. Sludge has a high phosphorus-to-nitrogen ratio (P: N), making it a more challenging product to utilize. Moreover, high concentrations of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in the sludge can negatively impact receiving fields and crops if applied on a nitrogen-basis. Reducing water content in sludge is a critical challenge facing sludge utilization. Water removal (drying) is an energy intensive process that can require large capital investment. Commercial dryers are an expensive option for swine sludge drying. Solar dryers, on the other hand, represent a class of promising drying technologies that can be leveraged to reduce sludge water without a significant capital/operating cost. This study aims to assess greenhouse drying systems used to dry swine lagoon sludge and provide design recommendations to operators to optimize performance.

Date: 01/01/21 - 9/30/22
Amount: $6,908.00
Funding Agencies: NC Cattlemen's Association

This proposal aims to develop and provide recommendations for mortality composting practices that are effective, practical, and environmentally safe to support NC cattle producers. This will be accomplished by setting up cattle mortality composting trials at Piedmont Research Station (Salisbury, NC) to assess the impact of carbon amendment and starter material. The process temperature will be monitored throughout the test with samples from finished compost as well as soil surrounding the site will be collected to evaluate effect of base on mitigating nutrient leaching from composting site.

Date: 03/31/21 - 9/30/22
Amount: $97,156.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

The goal of this project is to identify a valuable use for bioenergy bioenergy byproduct (biochar) within the NC poultry sector. Such use can improve the economic outlook of miscanthus adoption as well as its utilization in bioenergy generation. As such, this project aims at assessing the benefits of using miscanthus-derived biochar as a poultry litter additive. Poultry litter additives are typically used to reduce litter ammonia concentration, as well as control pathogenic microorganisms and reduce pests which, without intervention, can reduce poultry productivity and welfare. Currently, the industry relies on commercial treatment additives, such as alum or PLT ®, which can be a significant cost to production and require repeated additions to maintain benefits. This project aims at assessing the impact of biochar production conditions and treatment on ammonia emissions from broiler litter.

Date: 03/30/19 - 7/01/22
Amount: $144,711.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Swine lagoon sludge management is critical to the operation of swine facilities. Sludge removal from the lagoon is costly and can result in additional cost associated with transportation and land application. In North Carolina, the limited cropping acreage introduces yet another constraint on sludge management. Swine sludge can be processed to generate a dry biomass feedstock that is easier to transport and apply as nutrient source for bioenergy crops and grasses, or as a feedstock for combustion alone or blended with poultry litter, or lignocellulosic feedstock. Sludge removal and drying represent bottlenecks that impede the development of these utilization alternatives. This project will develop and evaluate the performance of sludge removal and drying systems, and characterize the removed, dried sludge as a soil amendment and as a combustion feedstock.


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