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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Spatial Contrasts of Seasonal and Intraflock Broiler Litter Trace Gas Emissions, Physical and Chemical Properties


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 1, p. 176-187
    Received: Feb 9, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): dana.miles@ars.usda.gov
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  1. D. M. Miles *a,
  2. J. P. Brooksa and
  3. K. Sistanib
  1. a USDA–ARS, Genetics and Precision Agric. Res. Unit, Mississippi State, MS 39762
    b USDA–ARS, Animal Waste Manage. Res. Unit, Bowling Green, KY. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by USDA. Assigned to Associate Editor Rod Venterea


Comprehensive mitigation strategies for gaseous emissions from broiler operations requires knowledge of the litters' physical and chemical properties, gas evolution, bird effects, as well as broiler house management and structure. This research estimated broiler litter surface fluxes for ammonia (NH3), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). Ancillary measurements of litter temperature, litter total N, ammonium (NH4 +), total C content, moisture, and pH were also made. Grid sampling was imposed over the floor area of two commercial broiler houses at the beginning (Day 1), middle (Day 23), and end (Day 43) of a winter and subsequent summer flock housed on reused pine shavings litter. The grid was composed of 36 points, three locations across the width, and 12 locations down the length of the houses. To observe feeder and waterer (F/W) influences on the parameters, eight additional sample locations were added in a crisscross pattern among these automated supply lines. Color variograms illustrate the nature of parameter changes within each flock and between seasons. Overall trends for the NH3, N2O, and CO2 gas fluxes indicate an increase in magnitude with bird age during a flock for both summer and winter, but flux estimates were reduced in areas where compacted litter (i.e., caked litter or cake) formed at the end of the flocks (at F/W locations and in the fan area). End of flock gas fluxes were estimated at 1040 mg NH3 m−2 h−1, 20 mg N2O m−2 h−1, and 24,200 mg CO2 m−2 h−1 in winter; and 843 mg NH3 m−2 h−1, 18 mg N2O m−2 h−1, and 27,200 mg CO2 m−2 h−1 in summer. The results of intensive sample efforts during winter and summer flocks, reported visually using contour plots, offer a resource to the poultry industry and researchers for creating new management strategies for improving production and controlling gas evolution. Particularly, efforts could focus on designing housing systems that minimize extremes in litter compaction. The extremes are undesirable with more friable litter prone to greater gas evolution and more compacted litter providing a slippery, disease-sustaining surface.

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