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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Effect of Chemical Amendments on Ammonia Volatilization from Poultry Litter


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 24 No. 2, p. 293-300
    Received: Apr 18, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. P. A. Moore Jr. *,
  2. T. C. Daniel,
  3. D. R. Edwards and
  4. D. M. Miller
  1. USDA-ARS-PPPSR, Agronomy Dep., Plant Sciences 115, Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701;
    Agronomy Dep., Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701;
    Agric. and Biol. Eng. Dep., Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.



Ammonia (NH3) volatilization from poultry litter results in a buildup of atmospheric NH3 in chicken houses, which is detrimental to both farm laborers and birds. Ammonia loss from litter is detrimental to the external environment because it results in acid rain, as well as low N/P ratios in litter, which increase the likelihood of excessive P runoff into adjacent water bodies. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of various chemical amendments on NH3 volatilization and selected litter characteristics after 42 d. A laboratory study was conducted using the following amendments: Ca(OH)2 (calcium hydroxide), Al2(SO4)3·18H2O (alum), alum + CaCO3, FeSO4·7H2O (ferrous sulfate), and MLT (Multi-purpose Litter Treatment, commercial product). Ammonia-free air was continuously passed through air-tight chambers containing amended litter and any NH3 volatilized from the litter was trapped in boric acid solutions, which were titrated daily for NH3 content. The study was carried out for 42 d. At this time, the litter was analyzed for pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soluble, organic C (SOC), metals, and soluble and total forms of N and P. The results of this study indicated that the addition of alum to poultry litter dramatically reduces NH3 volatilization (up to 99% less volatilization than controls). Decreases in volatilization resulted in higher total and soluble N in litter, which increased N/P ratios. Several of the compounds studied (particularly alum) were effective in decreasing water-soluble P levels in litter. Therefore, we are proposing the use of alum as a litter amendment in poultry houses.

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