Sodium Bisulfate Treatment of Horse Stalls in the Southeastern United States

For the equine industry, concerns about ammonia (NH3) levels in the barn environment are multifaceted and include issues of animal welfare, animal and human health, and environmental impacts. In Florida, many performance horses are housed in stalls at least part of the day as are horses with allergic skin conditions and/or pasture associated asthma. The warm and humid climate produces favorable conditions for ammonia generation and fly emergence. Previous research has demonstrated the effectiveness of sodium bisulfate in lowering floor substrate and bedding pH, reducing ammonia concentrations, and fly populations in livestock facilities (poultry houses and dairies)1,2. However, research on application of sodium bisulfate in equine facilities is limited to two studies conducted in the northeastern United States3.

What did we do?

The objective of this pilot study was to determine the effects of sodium bisulfate (PLT®) application in a north central Florida equine facility on bedding pH, NH3 concentration, and fly counts. Four 12 x 12 ft stalls in a 20-stall barn were used, 2 control (CON) and 2 treated with sodium bisulfate (SB), individually housing mature geldings. Data were collected during the third week of August, 2018. Stalls were initially bedded with 67 lbs of wood shavings. Amount of product initially added to SB stalls was 14 lbs (manufacturer recommended application rate of 100 lbs/1,000 sqft) followed by 7 lbs daily for 4 days. Horses were housed in stalls overnight (12 hours/day) and stalls cleaned (manure and wet bedding removed) once/day. An aspirating pump and gas detection tubes (Kitagawa, Japan) were used to determine NH3 concentration before stall cleaning (AM measurement), to allow for manure and urine accumulation, and 10 hours post stall cleaning (PM measurement). Three 5-gallon buckets were placed over the stall surface in a triangular pattern to standardize airflow and the location of each bucket was marked to allow replication across AM and PM readings. OnSet HOBO loggers were used to monitor temperature and relative humidity. Fly traps containing no fly attractant, were suspended 8 feet above the floor in the center of each stall to determine fly counts.

What Have We Learned?

Background (cleaned stalls without bedding material; rubber mats only) and baseline (bedded stalls) NH3 concentrations were < 5 ppm and not different between SB and CON stalls. NH3 concentrations had a cumulative effect and were greater on day 3 (69.8 ppm) compared to day 1 (< 5 ppm) and day 2 (16.7 ppm). NH3 concentrations were greater in CON stalls (28.6 ppm) compared to SB stalls (< 5 ppm). Bedding pH was lower in SB stalls (1.82) compared to CON stalls (6.16) demonstrating an overall treatment effect, but pH of the bedding increased over the duration of the study. The number of flies caught in traps did not differ between treatments, although fly counts did increase over time. Reductions in pH and NH3 observed in the present study were comparable to previous studies. We expected reductions in flies in stalls treated with SB, however, fly counts were extremely low overall and a different approach for quantifying fly numbers may be necessary.

Future Plans

Future research directions include testing different application rates for equine stalls and determining efficacy of SB with different bedding types. Additional studies to investigate the effectiveness of SB in mitigating NH3 emissions in equine facilities4 and reducing fly populations and bacteria in stalls should be pursued. There is also potential to assess the benefits of SB application near manure storage areas on equine operations.

Corresponding author, title, affiliation and email

Carissa Wickens, Extension Equine Specialist, University of Florida.   cwickens@ufl.edu

Other authors: Jill Bobel, Biological Scientist, University of Florida; Danielle Collins, Graduate Student, University of Florida; Alex Basso, Graduate Student, University of Florida

Additional information:

1Johnson, T. M. and B. Murphy. 2008. Use of sodium bisulfate to reduce ammonia emissions from poultry and livestock housing. Proceedings of the Mitigating Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations Conference, Des Moines, IA. Iowa State University, pp. 74-78.

2Sun, H., Y. Pan, Y. Zhao, W. A. Jackson, L. M. Nuckles, I. L. Malkina, V. E. Arteaga and F. M. Mitloehner. 2008. Effects of sodium bisulfate on alcohol, amine, and ammonia emissions from dairy slurry. J. Environmental Quality 37:608-614. 

3Sweeney, C.R., S.M. McDonnell, G.E. Russell, and M. Terzich. 1997. Effect of sodium bisulfate on ammonia concentration, fly population, and manure pH in a horse barn. Am. J. Vet. Res. 57(12):1795-1798.

4Weir, J., H. Li, L.K. Warren, E. Macon, C. Wickens. 2017. Evaluating the impact of ammonia emissions from equine operations on the environment. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. https://lpelc.org/evaluating-the-impact-of-ammonia-emissions-from-equine-operations-on-the-environment/. Accessed on: February 28, 2019.

Additional information regarding this project is available by contacting Carissa Wickens (cwickens@ufl.edu), or Jill Bobel (jbrides2@ufl.edu).

Acknowledgements:

The authors wish to thank Dr. Josh Payne, Technical Services Manager, Jones-Hamilton Company, Agricultural Division, and Dr. Hong Li, Associate Professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware for providing technical expertise and support for this project. We would also like to thank Carol Vasco, Tayler Hansen, Agustin Francisco, and Claudia Lopez for their assistance with data collection.

Figure 1: Placement of buckets over the stall floor for measurement of NH3 concentrations. The ammonia pump with attached gas detection tube was placed through a small hole drilled into the top of each bucket.
Figure 1: Placement of buckets over the stall floor for measurement of NH3 concentrations. The ammonia pump with attached gas detection tube was placed through a small hole drilled into the top of each bucket.
Figure 2: Average daytime and nighttime temperatures and percent relative humidity during the study period.
Figure 2: Average daytime and nighttime temperatures and percent relative humidity during the study period.

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. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Using Wet Scrubber to Reduce Ammonia Emission from Broiler Houses


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Purpose 

Research on mitigating the effects of animal feeding operations (AFOs) on air quality in the US has made great strides in recent years. Development of cost-effective air emission mitigation and assessing the effectiveness of these technologies is urgently needed to improve our environmental performance and to help producers address increasing regulatory pressures. Scrubbers have been shown to be a powerful tool in reducing ammonia (NH3), dust and odor emissions. An affordable two-stage acid scrubber was developed by USDA ARS for treating exhaust air and can easily be installed onto the exhaust fans of existing poultry facilities. A field project was conducted to evaluate the efficiency of the acid scrubber under field conditions on three broiler farms, two located in Delaware (DE) and one located in Pennsylvania (PA).

What did we do? 

The two-stage scrubbers were installed on the minimum fans of three farms that were using different practices and settings. One farm used 36” minimum fans and reused existing litter throughout the project while an organic farm used a 36” minimum fan, but used new bedding materials for every flock. The third scrubber was installed on a research farm with a 24” minimum fan and used litter. Sodium bisulfate was used as the acid agent. Ammonia concentration and airflow rate through each fan were continuously measured. Scrubber liquid samples were analyzed to calculate the efficiency of each scrubber. Acid, water and electricity consumption of each scrubber were recorded over multiple flocks and seasons.

What have we learned?              

The mean NH3 capturing efficiencies of the three scrubbers for the three sites were 31.3, 34.3 and 11.0 %, respectively. The low efficiency (11%) of one scrubber was due to high NH3 emission rate and inadequate acid solution in the scrubber (the solution at this site was checked and replaced weekly whereas the solution at the other two sites were checked daily). For every kg NH3 captured, the average water, sodium bisulfate and electricity consumption at the three sites were 0.23 m3, 15.10 kg and 43.74 kWh, respectively.

Future Plans 

Based on the field experiences of running the three scrubbers, several recommendations are suggested: 1) increase fan run time to compensate for air flow loss due to high pressure drop, 2) add insulation on drain valves, 3) heat fresh water line and add a heater in pump boxes, 4) clean dust scrubber at least twice per flock for houses with used litter, 5) replace acid solution more frequently toward end of the flock for best performance, 6) add a storage tank for spent liquid if the growers do not have crops or pasture to apply to, and 7) add an automatic acid dosing system to reduce labor requirement and improve scrubber performance.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation        

Hong Li, Assistant Professor, University of Delaware

Corresponding author email    

hli@udel.edu

Other authors   

Chen Zhang, Philip Moore, Michael Buser, Cathleen J. Hapeman, Paul Patterson, Gregory Martin, Jerry Martin

Additional information              

Zhang, Chen, Hong Li , Philip A Moore , Michael Buser, Cathleen J. Hapeman, Paul Patterson, Gregory Martin. 2016. ASABE Annual International Conference. Paper number 2461008; Orkando,Florida, July 17 – July 20.

Acknowledgements       

This study was partially supported by funds from USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program (Award No. NRCS 69-3A75-12-244), University of Delaware, Penn State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Maryland, and USDA-ARS. The cooperation and assistance of the collaborating producer is also acknowledged.

 

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. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.