Use of Sodium Bisulfate to Reduce Ammonia Emissions from Poultry and Livestock Housing

Reprinted, with permission, from the proceedings of: Mitigating Air Emissions From Animal Feeding Operations Conference.

The proceedings, “Mitigating Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations”, with expanded versions of these summaries can be purchased through the Midwest Plan Service.

This Technology is Applicable To:

Species: Poultry (Broiler, Layer, and Turkey), Beef, horses
Use Area: Animal Housing
Technology Category: Chemical Amendment
Air Mitigated Pollutants: Ammonia, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

System Summary

The application of Sodium bisulfate (SBS) has been shown to effectively reduce ammonia emissions from poultry housing, horse stalls, and dairy facilities. In addition, VOC emissions from fresh cattle manure are also greatly reduced (Marsh Johnson, et al. 2006, Ullman, et al., 2004; Blake and Hess, 2001; Sweeney, et al., 1996; Harper, 2002, Sun et al, 2008). Currently, 40-50% of all broilers produced in the United States are raised on SBS treated litter (PLT® litter acidifier, Jones-Hamilton Co., Walbridge, OH) for the purpose of controlling interior ammonia levels below 20 PPM and reducing litter bacterial levels for bird welfare and performance reasons. In addition to reducing ammonia emissions by 60% from fresh dairy manure, ethanol and methanol emissions were also reduced 61% and 58%, respectively (Sun, et al. 2008). Sodium bisulfate is broadcast over the surface of the bedding material and can be applied in the presence of poultry and livestock.

Sodium bisulfate is a dry, granular acid salt. Current application rates are dependent on litter age, animal density, and other factors and range from 0.32-1.95 kg/m2 (50-300 lbs/1000 sqft) of animal housing space. Decreasing interior ammonia concentrations in poultry housing allow for a reduced ventilation rate leading to substantial fuel savings of up to 43% with sodium bisulfate application (Terzich, 1997). In addition, sodium bisulfate usage improves bird performance, reduces pathogens on poultry carcasses, and decreases poultry respiratory lesions and ascites (Pope and Cherry, 2000; Terzich et al, 1998 a & b).

Applicability and Mitigating Mechanism

  • SBS reduces litter and bedding pH reducing ammonia flux
  • SBS reacts with ammonia to form ammonium sulfate preventing release of ammonia as pH increases over time
  • The combination of sodium and hydrogen reduce manure bacterial populations thereby reducing VOC emissions and pathogens
  • SBS can be safely applied in the presence of animals or prior to animal placement


  • SBS application rates need to be increased as ammonia demand in the litter increases


Sodium bisulfate costs $0.50/kg ($0.23/lb) and the use of a commercial applicator is approximately $40-45 per house. SBS is safe enough to be applied by the farmer or poultry grower. No additional house preparation is necessary for application. Fuel savings in the first 2-3 days recoup the cost of SBS and its application. Improvements in feed conversion, weight, livability, and paw quality all provide substantial additional return on investment.


Trisha Marsh Johnson1, Bernard Murphy21Veterinary & Environmental Technical Solutions, PC, 2 Jones-Hamilton Co.
Point of Contact:
Dr. Bernard Murphy,

The information provided here was developed for the conference Mitigating Air Emissions From Animal Feeding Operations Conference held in May 2008. To obtain updates, readers are encouraged to contact the author.