Development of an Acid Scrubber for Reducing Ammonia Emissions from Animal Rearing Facilities

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Abstract

Recent research has shown that over half of nitrogen excreted by chickens is lost into the atmosphere via ammonia volatilization before the litter is removed from poultry houses.  Large quantities of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also emitted from animal rearing facilities. During the past decade we have developed and patented an acid scrubber for capturing ammonia, VOCs and dust from air exhausted from poultry and swine barns.  The objectives of this project were; (1) to re-design the scrubber to improve the ammonia removal efficacy, (2) conduct full-scale testing of the scrubber under controlled conditions at various ventilation rates, (3) evaluate the cost, practicality and efficacy of various acids for scrubbing ammonia, and (4) install scrubbers on exhaust fans of poultry houses located in Virginia and Arkansas and measure the efficiency of ammonia removal from the exhaust air.  The efficiency of ammonia removal by the scrubber varied from 55-95%, depending on the type of acid used, air flow rate, and the internal scrubber configuration.  This technology could potentially result in the capture of a large fraction of the N lost from AFOs, while simultaneously reducing emissions of bacteria, dust, and odors, which would improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of poultry and swine production.

Purpose

The objectives of this project were; (1) to re-design our ammonia scrubber to improve the ammonia removal efficacy, (2) conduct full-scale testing of the scrubber under controlled conditions at various ventilation rates, and (3) evaluate the cost, practicality and efficacy of various acids for scrubbing ammonia.

Acid scrubber developed by USDA/ARS in Fayetteville, AR, for reducing ammonia, dust and odor emissions from animal rearing facilities.

What Did We Do?

During the first year of this project the main task of our team was to re-design the ammonia scrubber developed and patented by Moore (2007).  A full scale prototype was constructed of wood and a series of tests were conducted to evaluate various configurations on air flow and static pressure drop in tests conducted in a machine shop.  The scrubber was connected to a 48” variable speed poultry fan.  Air flow was measured using a fan assessment numeration system (FANS unit).  Static pressure difference was measured using a Setra 2601MS1 differential pressure sensor.   The effects of slat angle, number and arrangement of slats, and thickness of cool cell material were evaluated. 

Following the initial testing a fiberglass mold was made and six scrubbers were constructed.  One of these was used to evaluate the effectiveness of water, strong acids, acid salts, and a neutral salt on scrubbing ammonia.  Anhydrous ammonia was metered out into a distribution system located within the fan at a sufficient rate to result in 25 ppm NH3 in the plenum between the fan and the dust scrubber.  Evaluations of each acid were made with the variable speed fan set at 60 and 40 Hz, which corresponded to air flows of approximately 8,000 and 5,000 cfm, respectively.  A stainless steel star sampler was used to take air samples from the plenum and from the air exhausted from the scrubber.  Ammonia concentrations were measured using a photoaccustic multigas analyzer (Innova 1412).  All personal involved in this testing wore respirators equipped with NH3 cartridges.  Three 2-hour trials were conducted with solutions of the following acids at both 40 and 60 Hz: alum, aluminum chloride, ferric sulfate, ferric chloride, sodium bisulfate, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, and nitric acid. The effects of water and calcium chloride were also evaluated.   For these trials the amount of each acid added was equivalent to 2 liters of concentrated sulfuric acid.

In addition to measuring inflow and outflow ammonia levels, the mass accumulation of ammonia in both the dust and acid scrubber reservoirs was determined by analyzing the contents for ammonium using an auto-analyzer.  Twenty ml aliquots of the scrubber solution were taken at times 0, 1 and 2 hours for ammonia and pH measurements.  These data were used to validate that the difference in inlet and outlet ammonia were, in fact, due to accumulation of NH3 in the scrubber.  Notes were also taken on each chemical’s ease of use and potential for problems.  For example, some dry acids did not readily dissolve and some strong acids, like sulfuric acid, had very strong exothermic reactions.  Salts of aluminum and iron become aluminum and iron hydroxides at high pH which have the potential to clog cool cell material. 

Another performance issue that was monitored was the loss of fine droplets (mist) from the scrubber.  When dealing with high air volumes and small droplet sizes, there is a potential for mist to exit the system, resulting in not only the loss of N, but of the acid used to scrub NH3.  In order to measure mist loss, five 12.5 cm Whatman 42 filters were attached on a wire cage on the exhaust of the scrubber.  These filters were placed in a 50 ml centrifuge tub at the end of each trial and shaken with 25 ml of DDI water, which was analyzed for ammonium, along with sulfate, chloride, nitrate, or phosphate, depending on the acid used.

What Have We Learned?

Early on in this research we learned that two scrubbers (a dust scrubber and an acid scrubber) were needed rather than one.  If the dust isn’t removed from the exhaust air of poultry houses, then a large amount of the acid will be wasted neutralizing the dust.

We found that the relationship between slat angle and pressure drop was exponential and the angle that would maximize particle collisions on a wet surface while minimizing pressure drop was 45o.  We also found that as the number of rows of slats increased the effect on pressure drop was linear.   The final configuration chosen was eight rows of slats in the dust scrubber and three rows of slats in the chemical scrubber, followed by one or two 6” thick layers of cool cell material.    The pressure drop using this configuration was about 0.1” of water at 5,000 cfm and 0.3” of water at 8,000 cfm.

All of the acids scrubbed ammonium from air, whereas water and calcium chloride only worked for a very short period of time.  The iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) compounds tended to work a little better than the other acid salts or the strong acids.  We believe this is due to Fe and Al compounds coating the cool cell material.  Although no difference was observed in the static pressure during these short tests, we believe Al and Fe hydroxides would eventually form and may clog the cool cells.  Due to the inherit danger in dealing with strong acids, we concluded that an acid salt that did not contain Al and Fe, such as sodium bisulfate, would be used for our research in the future.  This product is sold under the tradename PLT for a poultry litter treatment and is readily available to poultry growers. 

Future Plans

Four NH3 scrubbers will be attached to sidewall fans of a commercial broiler house located in Madison County, Arkansas.  The efficacy of these scrubbers for reducing ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter will be evaluated.  We will also measure the amount of sodium bisulfate, water and electricity used by the scrubbers, as well as the mass of nitrogen captured.  A cost-benefit analysis will be performed based on this data.  Data on the efficacy to scrub ammonia will also be conducted on farms in DE, VA, and PA.

Authors

Philip A. Moore, Jr., USDA/ARS, philipm@uark.edu

Rory Maguire, Virginia Tech

Mark Reiter, Virginia Tech

Jactone Ogejo, Virginia Tech

Robert Burns, University of Tennessee

Hong Li, University of Delaware

Dana Miles, USDA/ARS

Michael Buser, Oklahoma State University

Acknowledgements

This research was funding by USDA/ARS and by grants from USDA/NRCS and the National Wildlife Foundation.   The authors would like to thank the hard work and great ideas supplied by Scott Becton and Jerry Martin, without which this scrubber could not have been built.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

White Meat-Green Farm: Case Study of Brinson Farms

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Abstract

Comprehensive on-farm resource utilization and renewable energy generation at the farm scale are not new concepts.  However, truly encompassing implementation of these ideals is lacking.  Brinson Farms operates 10 commercial broiler houses.  The farm generates heat for its houses using biomass boilers and litter anaerobic digestion to produce methane.  Solar panels assist in heating process water for the boilers and digester.  Biomass feedstock includes litter as well as municipal yard wastes.  Liquid fertilizer is a product of the digester while residual solids are included in the farm’s composting operation.  The operator has used a futuristic approach to not only attain energy independence for the farm, but also to comprehensively utilize byproducts of production and other local “wastes”, diverting them from local landfills.  Considering the propane cost for a single winter flock has reached $66,000 and the annual electric bill may be $120,000, energy costs very much affect grower profitability.  This approach decreases the uncertainty in energy costs.  Brinson Farms provides a unique look into ensuring long-term farm sustainability in an environmentally friendly way and with a wide-ranging systems approach to management.

Purpose

The purpose of the renewable energy project was to implement an innovative, sustainable solution to manage poultry manure and other organic waste products using anaerobic digestion as well as to demonstrate the ability to effectively and economically reduce dependence on outside utilities.

What Did We Do?

Brinson Farms demonstrates comprehensive utilization of local resources that have historically been viewed as wastes.  These organic materials (broiler litter, yard trimmings, storm damaged trees and waste vegetables) come from both the farm and the community.  Broiler litter and waste vegetables are anaerobically digested to produce methane.  The methane is then used in three ways: 1) to generate electricity for the farm; 2) in boilers to heat water used in the digestion process; and 3) in dual-fuel biomass boilers to heat water for heat exchange in the broiler houses when biomass sources are low. Two other significant products from the digester include liquid fertilizer (approximately 5-2-3) that is sold and residual solids that are incorporated into the farm’s composting facility.  Solar panels assist in heating water for the biomass boilers and the digester. The simple payback period for the on-farm poultry litter digester system is approximately 5 years.

Brinson Farms anaerobic digester complex.

What Have We Learned?

Brinson Farms provides a unique system to ensure long-term farm sustainability in an environmentally beneficial manner. Attributes of the integrated system include: 1) bio-based energy production; 2) reduced utility costs; 3) comprehensive litter utilization; 4) no need to land apply poultry litter; 5) production of high quality, organic liquid fertilizer; 6) production of a marketable soil amendment (compost);  and 7) diverting wastes from landfills.  The farm/community interface is mutually advantageous. The farm uses yard trimmings and trees for energy and as a compost substrate; the community has a free repository to dispose of the biomass, where otherwise it would have to pay landfill fees.

Biomass storage and boiler to heat broiler houses

Future Plans

Future plans include developing economic evaluations for each of the system components so that farmers can choose the renewable energy/value added process(es) that will best fit their local resources as well as short and long term financial plans.

Authors

Dana M. Miles, Chemical Engineer, USDA-ARS Genetics & Precision Agriculture Research Unit, Mississippi State, MS, dana.miles@ars.usda.gov

Additional Information

John Logan: johnlogan1@windstream.net;

Jeff Breeden: jbreeden@egesystems.com;

Eagle Green Energy: http://eaglegreenenergyinc.com/;

Arora, S. 2011. Poultry Manure: The New Frontier for Anaerobic Digestion. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1046769.pdf

Acknowledgements

The assistance of John Logan and Jeff Breeden to effectively describe the Brinson system is greatly appreciated.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Dissipation of Fine Particulates Downwind of Poultry Houses

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Abstract

Air emissions from animal feeding operations have become a growing concern for producers and their neighbors.  Much work has been done to quantify emission rates; however, little information has been provided about air quality downwind from these facilities.  This study investigates PM2.5 (particulate matter ≤ 2.5 µm in diameter) levels as they dissipate from the exhaust fans of selected commercial, tunnel-ventilated, broiler houses in Northeast Georgia. PM2.5 was measured in real time using aerosol monitors and from a time-integrated basis using cyclone samplers.  Data were taken over the last 4-weeks of a summer flock (considered a worst-case-scenario) and filtered to insure enough data was present at each distance and time.  Results indicate a rapid reduction in fine particulate concentration as the distance from the source increases.  When compared to nearby monitoring data, particulate levels appear to be near background levels at distances greater than 30 m (100 ft) from the exhaust fans.

Why Study PM 2.5 in Poultry Production?

Considerable work has been done on evaluation of particulate and ammonia concentrations inside poultry houses and emissions from those houses.  Less is known about how concentrations dissipate as they leave the houses. This is a concern for neighbors of production facilities as well as farm owners.  The objective of this study was to investigate PM2.5 concentrations in the air up to 152.5 m (500ft) away from tunnel-ventilated broiler houses and compare those levels to ambient conditions. 

What Did We Do?

The study was conducted on a four-house commercial broiler farm in Northeast Georgia, from July 18 through August 12, 2007.  The houses were orientated east to west with open pasture located on the east end (downwind) of the four houses. The investigation incorporated a study design to include conditions which favored maximum emission rates, including high temperatures (July, August) and sampling during the final four weeks of the 8-week broiler grow-out cycle. 

Real time (DustTrak 8520) and daily cumulative gravimetric (Triplex cyclone; BGI, model SCC 1.062) PM2.5 measurements were measured at locations as shown on Figure 1. Publicly available data taken by Georgia EPD [9] using a TEOM 1400ab sampler at a site in Athens, GA (approx.. 32 km east of the site) was also used as an additional “control site.” 

What Have We Learned?

Particulate levels near poultry houses are elevated by emissions from the houses, however if we compare the readings on Figures 2a and 2b, we see that the largest single influence on the results was ambient conditions.  The downwind levels (2b) closely followed the ambient levels (2a). Similar results were seen for the daily gravimetric readings.  If we look at the average readings for the entire experiment at each distance from the house and compare those to in-house and ambient readings (Figure 3) we see a rapidly dropping influence on atmospheric particulate readings with no significant difference beyond 30 m from the houses.  While some of the measurements were above EPA’s ambient air standards, ambient conditions were also above the standards during those days.

Figure 2 PM 2.5 levels vs. distance from houses

Authors

John W Worley, Associate Professor, Poultry Science Department, University of Georgia jworley@uga.edu

Casey W Ritz1 Professor, Michael Czarick1,Sr. Public Service Associate, Brian D Fairchild1,Associate Professor, Luke P Naeher2 Associate Professor

1 Poultry Science Department, University of Georgia

2 Environmental Health Science, University of Georgia

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Mr. Benjamin Hale and Mr. Adam Gray who did much of the field work including instrument calibration and lab analysis for this project and to Mr. Olorunfemi Adetona for his help in pulling together information for the document.  We would also like to thank the US Poultry and Egg Association for their financial support that enabled this research to be accomplished.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Small and Backyard Poultry Flocks

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Abstract

Because of their size, it is possible to raise most poultry species (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeon, etc.) with only a minimal amount of acreage. This has made them increasingly popular in rural, suburban, and urban areas throughout the United States. They are suitable for 4-H/classroom projects, backyard flocks, as well as small- and medium-sized production flocks. Many of those who have started raising poultry have limited experience with poultry production.

What Topics Will Be Covered In This Presentation?

Example of a small layer flock (3 Buff Orpingtons) in a backyard

An overview of the situation with small and backyard flocks with regards to waste management

What Did We Do?

Visits to different small and backyard flocks, as well as information provided during presentations and webinars.

What Have We Learned?

Poultry production in the US started out as small farm operations. Over the decades poultry production has evolved from farming to an industry. World War II created a huge demand for poultry products. As farm workers were drafted into the army production become more mechanized. After the war ended many of the returning soldiers did not return to a life on the farm. New urban markets for poultry products developed, furthering fueling the modernization of poultry production. Today we have come full circle. It is becoming more common to see small chicken flocks raised in backyard poultry flocks. Niche markets have also been developed for organic and pasture poultry production.

The front yard of a home with a backyard chicken flock

Although flock size is small, chickens kept in backyards still produce a considerable amount of manure that needs to be managed. Many backyard flock owners also raise their own vegetables and use the manure produced as a valuable fertilizer. For others, however, the manure can be allowed to accumulate and, when not properly stored, can become an odor nuisance. Pasture-raised poultry flocks, given sufficient acreage, spreads the manure over a large area reducing, or eliminating, odor problems.

For both backyard and confined small poultry flocks, composting of both manure and any dead birds has become common.

Future Plans

Use of composted manure as fertilizer for raised garden beds

In the 1950s more than 40 state colleges and universities had poultry science departments. Discoveries in nutrition, genetics, physiology, health and food science helped poultry production become an important food industry.  Today only 6 universities have poultry departments. With the loss of university poultry depeartments and retirmements of key extension people, there has been a loss of updated extension publications to provide guidance to small and backyard poultry flock owners. Since very little information is available addressing the management needs of these smaller poultry flocks, many producers have turned to outdated books as well as non-science-based and anecdotal information for their education needs. A new eXtension community of practice for small and backyard poultry has been developed to fill this information void.

Author

Dr. Jacquie Jacob; Poultry Extension Associate; University of Kentucky, 906 Garrigus Building; Lexington, KY; 40546-0215, jacquie.jacob@uky.edu

Additional Information

www.eXtension.org/poultry

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Estimation of On-Farm Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Poultry Houses

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*Abstract

Much of the greenhouse gases (GHG) generated from the poultry industry is primarily from feed production. The poultry producer does not have control over the production and distribution of the feed used on the farm. However, they can control other emissions that occur on the farm such as emissions from the utilization of fossil fuels and from manure management. A series of studies were conducted to evaluate on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from broiler, breeder and pullets houses in addition to an in-line commercial layer complex. Data was collected from distributed questionnaires and included; the activity data from the facility operations (in the form of fuel bills and electricity bills), house size and age, flock size, number of flocks per year, and manure management system. Emissions were calculated using GHG calculation tools and emission factors from IPCC. The carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions were computed and a carbon footprint was determined and expressed in tonnes carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).

The results from the study showed that about 90% of the emissions from the broiler and pullet farms were from propane and diesel gas use, while only 6% of the total emissions from breeder farms were from propane and diesel gas use. On breeder farms, about 29% of GHG emissions were the result of electricity use while the pullet and broiler farms had only 3% emissions from electricity use. Emissions from manure management in the layer facility were responsible for 53% of the total emission from the facility, while electricity use represented 28% of the total emissions. The results from these studies identified the major sources of on-farm of GHG emissions. This will allow us to target these areas for abatement and mitigation strategies.

Why Study Greenhouse Gases on Poultry Farms?

Human activities, including modern agriculture, contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (IPCC, 1996). Agriculture has been reported to be responsible for 6.3% of the GHG emissions in the U.S., of this 53.5% were a result of animal agriculture. Of the emissions from animal agriculture, poultry was responsible for only 0.6%. Much of the CO2e that is generated from the poultry industry is primarily from feed production, the utilization of fossil fuels and manure management (Pelletier, 2008; EWG, 2011). While the poultry producer does not have control over the production of the feed that is used on the farm, there are other GHG emissions that occur on the farm that are under their control. These emissions may be in the form of purchased electricity, propane used for heating houses and incineration of dead birds, diesel used in farm equipment which includes generators and emissions from manure management.

What Did We Do?

A series of studies were conducted to examine the GHG emissions from poultry production houses and involved the estimation of emissions from; broiler grow-out farms, pullet farms, breeder farms from one commercial egg complex. Data collection included the fuel and electricity bills from each farm, house size and age, flock size and number of flocks per year and manure management. The GHG emissions were evaluated using the IPCC spreadsheets with emission factors based on region and animal type. We separated the emissions based on their sources and determined that there were two main sources, 1. Mechanical and 2. Non-mechanical. After we determined the sources, we looked at what contributed to each source.

What Have We Learned?

When all GHG emissions from each type of operation was evaluated, the total for an average broiler house was approximately 847 tonnes CO2e/year, the average breeder house emission was 102.56 tonnes CO2e/year, pullet houses had a total emission of 487.67 tonnes CO2e/year, and 4585.52 CO2e/year from a 12 house laying facility. The results from this study showed that approximately 96% of the mechanical emissions from broiler and pullet houses were from propane (stationary combustion) use while less than 5% of these emissions from breeder houses were from propane use. The high emission from propane use in broiler and pullet houses is due to heating the houses during brooding and cold weather. Annual emissions from manure management showed that layer houses had higher emissions (139 tonnes CO2e/year) when compared to breeder houses (65.3 tonnes CO2e/year), broiler houses (59 tonnes CO2e/year) and pullet houses (61.7tonnesCO2e/year). Poultry reared in management systems with litter and using solid storage has relatively high N2O emissions but low CH4 emissions.We have learned that there is variability in the amount of emissions within each type of poultry production facility regardless of the age or structure of houses and as such reduction strategies will have to be tailored to suit each situation. We have also learned that the amount of emissions from each source (mechanical or non-mechanical) depends on the type of operation (broiler, pullet, breeder, or layer).

Future Plans

Abatement and Mitigation strategies will be assessed and a Poultry Carbon Footprint Calculation Tool is currently being developed by the team and will be made available to poultry producers to calculate their on-farm emissions. This tool will populate a report and make mitigation recommendations for each scenario presented. Best management practices (BMP) can result in improvements in energy use and will help to reduce the use of fossil fuel, specifically propane on the poultry farms thereby reducing GHG emissions, we will develop a set of BMP for the poultry producer.

Authors

Claudia. S.  Dunkley, Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia; cdunkley@uga.edu

Brian. D. Fairchild, Casey. W. Ritz, Brian. H. Kiepper, and Michael. P. Lacy, Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Combustion of Poultry Litter: A Comparison of Using Litter for On-Farm Space Heating Versus Generation of Electricity

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Abstract

This presentation will compare using litter as a replacement for LP gas for on-farm space heating with using litter to generate electricity. The comparison includes heating system efficiency, amount of LP off-set possible, value of plant nutrients in the litter, quantity and value of plant nutrients in the litter ash, impact of brokerage, and costs of producing the energy. It was concluded that using litter on-farm as a source of space heat and using the litter ash as fertilizer could provide a potential value of $48 per ton of litter. However, on-farm combustion of litter to produce electricity resulted in a loss of about – $3/ton of litter. Therefore, if a heating and ash management system can be implemented in a cost-effective manner use of litter to off-set 90% or more of the heating energy requirements would be the better of these two alternatives.

Why Is Energy Use Important in Poultry Production?

Modern poultry production requires substantial amounts of energy for space heating (propane/LP gas), ventilation, feed handling, and lighting. It was determined that annual LP gas consumption in broiler houses can range from 150 to 300 gallons of LP per 1000 square feet of floor space with an average of about 240 gal LP/1000 ft2 observed in South Carolina. Similarly, broiler production in South Carolina requires about 2326 kWh/1000 ft2 of house area. As a result, a 6-house broiler farm in SC uses about 30,240 gallons of LP and 293.076 kWh of electricity annually. The cost for energy for a 6-house farm is on the order of $57,456 per year for LP ($1.90/gal LP) and $35,169 per year for electricity ($0.12/kWh). Energy costs have more than doubled over the last decade and as a result producers are very interested in ways to reduce on-farm energy costs by using the energy contained in the litter. The objective of this study was to compare using litter as a replacement for LP gas for on-farm space heating with using litter to generate electricity.

What Did We Do?

Our analysis included heating system efficiency, amount of LP off-set possible, value of plant nutrients in the litter, quantity and value of plant nutrients in the litter ash, impact of brokerage, and costs of producing the energy.

What Have We Learned?

It was concluded that using litter on-farm as a source of space heat and using the litter ash as fertilizer could provide a potential value of $46 to $55 per ton of litter. However, on-farm combustion of litter to produce electricity resulted in a loss of about $3/ton of litter. Therefore, if a heating and ash management system can be implemented in a cost-effective manner use of litter to off-set 90% or more of the heating energy requirements would be the better of these two alternatives.

Future Plans

This information is being used in extension programs that target poultry producers.

Authors

Dr. John P. Chastain, Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer,  School of Agricultural, Forestry, and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, jchstn@clemson.edu

Additional Information

Chastain, J.P., A. Coloma-del Valle, and K.P. Moore. 2012. Using Broiler Litter as an Energy Source: Energy Content and Ash Composition. Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol 28(4):513-522.

Acknowledgements

Support was provided by the Confined Animal Manure Managers Program, Clemson Extension, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Livestock and Poultry Mortality Management Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Scroll through the slideshows below to see many of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about managing animal carcasses. After each question you can play a short (1-2 minute) video or scroll to the next question. Also see the page “Managing Livestock and Poultry Mortalities“. This series of short (<2 minutes each) videos is also gathered into playlist on YouTube.

Options to Dispose of Livestock and Poultry Carcasses

Options for Managing Animal Mortalities

No farmer or ranch likes to lose an animal, but the need to dispose of livestock or poultry carcasses is an inescapable part of farming.

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 09:09:17

Why Is It Important to Manage Animal Mortalities Properly?
FAQ(v): Why is proper livestock disposal important?lpelc
What Are the Options for Animal Mortality Management?
FAQ(v): What are some common animal mortality disposal methods?lpelc
Animal Mortality Composting
FAQ(v): What is animal mortality composting?lpelc
Burial of Dead Animals
FAQ(v): Is Burial an Option for Managing Animal Mortalities?lpelc
Rendering Animal Mortalities
FAQ(v): Can I use rendering as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc
Incineration For Managing Animal Mortalities
FAQ(v): Can I use incineration as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc
Land Fills As An Option for Animal Carcasses
FAQ(v): Can I use landfills as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc

Composting Animal Mortalities

Composting Animal Mortalities

One option for managing livestock or poultry carcasses is composting. What are some of the most frequently asked questions when people first consider composting dead animals?

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 09:31:49

What Is Animal Mortality Composting?
FAQ(v): What is animal mortality composting?lpelc
Why Should I Consider Composting Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): Why should I consider composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
How Long Does Animal Mortality Composting Take?
FAQ(v): Approximately how long does livestock or poultry mortality composting take?lpelc
Economics of Composting Livestock Mortalities
FAQ(v): How much does livestock mortality composting cost?lpelc
What Are the Materials Needed for Composting Livestock or Poultry Mortalities (C:N Ratio, Moisture, etc.)?
FAQ(v): What are the necessary materials for composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
What Carbon Source Should I Use For Composting Livestock Mortalities?
FAQ(v): What carbon source can I use to compost animal mortalities?lpelc
When Should You Turn a Compost Pile Containing Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): How do you know when to turn the livestock mortality compost pile?lpelc
Will Odors Be a Problem When I Compost Animal Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Is odor a concern when composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
Will Scavengers Be a Problem When I compost Animal Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Are scavenger animals a concern when composting livestock or poultry mortalities?lpelc
Can I Compost Dead Animals In the Winter?
FAQ(v): Can you compost livestock or poultry mortalities in the winter?lpelc
Do the Bones Break Down When Composting Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Do the bones break down? If not, what should I do with them?lpelc

Catastrophic Mortality Management

Catastrophic Mortality Management

Sometimes fires, natural disasters, disease, or other problems unfortunately result in the loss of large numbers of livestock. If you do not plan ahead, you could be overwhelmed if this situation occurs for you.

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 10:42:04

What Happens If I Have Multiple Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): What if I have multiple livestock mortalities?lpelc
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities Using the Mix and Pile Method
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities In-House Using the Mix and Pile Methodlpelc
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities in Outdoor Windrows
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities in Outdoor Windrows.mp4lpelc

Related Information

  • eXtension: Managing Livestock and Poultry Mortalities
  • June, 2009 webcast presentation on Managing Livestock Mortalities Discusses regulations and an overview of several methods with an emphasis on composting.
  • LPES Curriculum Mortality Review
  • Question #27119, What is animal carcass composting? link
  • Question #27787, How critical are carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) in large carcass mortality composting? link
  • Question #27171, Should we be concerned about E. coli O157:H7 in manure compost? link
  • Question #27172, By what factor does composting manure reduce the pathogens present? link

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Livestock & Poultry

Agriculture is both a source and sink for greenhouse gases (GHG). A source is a net contribution to the atmosphere, while a sink is a net withdrawal of greenhouse gases.  In the United States, agriculture is a relatively small contributor, with approximately 8% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, as seen below.  Most agricultural emissions originate from soil management, enteric fermentation (the ruminant digestion process that produces methane), energy use, and manure management.  The primary greenhouse gases related to agriculture are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Within animal production, the largest emissions are from beef followed by dairy, and largely dominated by the methane produced in during cattle digestion.

U.S. GHG Inventory

U.S. greenhouse gas inventory with electricity distributed to economic sectors (EPA, 2013) 

Ag Sources of GHGs

U.S. agricultural greenhouse gas sources (Adapted from Archibeque, S. et al., 2012)

Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock in 2008 (USDA, 2011)

Soil Management

Excess nitrogen in agriculture systems can be converted to nitrous oxide through the nitrification-denitrification process. Nitrous oxide is a very potent greenhouse gas, with 310 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide.  Nitrous oxide can be produced in soils following fertilizer application (both synthetic and organic).

As crops grow, photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in the plants and soil life. Soil and plant respiration adds carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere when microbes or plants breakdown molecules to produce energy.  Respiration is an essential part of growth and maintenance for most life on earth. This repeats with each growth, harvest, and decay cycle, therefore, feedstuffs and foods are generally considered to be carbon “neutral.”

Some carbon dioxide is stored in soils for long periods of time.  The processes that result in carbon accumulation are called carbon sinks or carbon sequestration.  Crop production and grazing management practices influence the soil’s ability to be a net source or sink for greenhouse gases.  Managing soils in ways that increase organic matter levels can increase the accumulation (sink) of soil carbon for many years.

Animals

The next largest portion of livestock greenhouse gas emissions is from methane produced during enteric fermentation in ruminants – a natural part of ruminant digestion where microbes in the first of four stomachs, the rumen, break down feed and produce methane as a by-product. The methane is released  primarily through belching.

As with plants, animals respire carbon dioxide, but also store some in their bodies, so they too are considered a neutral source of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Manure Management

A similar microbial process to enteric fermentation leads to methane production from stored manure.  Anytime the manure sits for more than a couple days in an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment, methane will likely be produced.  Methane can be generated in the animal housing, manure storage, and during manure application. Additionally, small amounts of methane is produced from manure deposited on grazing lands.

Nitrous oxide is also produced from manure storage surfaces, during land application, and from manure in bedded packs & lots.

Other sources

There are many smaller sources of greenhouse gases on farms. Combustion engines exaust carbon dioxide from fossil fuel (previously stored carbon) powered vehicles and equipment.  Manufacturing of farm inputs, including fuel, electricity, machinery, fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, plastics, and building materials, also results in emissions.

To learn more about how farm emissions are determined and see species specific examples, see the Carbon Footprint resources.

To learn about how to reduce on-farm emissions through mitigation technology and management options, see the Reducing Emissions resources.

 Additional Resources

Additional Animal Agriculture and Climate Change Resources


Author: Crystal A. Powers, UNL
Reviewers: