Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #224868

Title: Reducing Ammonia Emissions from Poultry Litter with Alum

item Moore, Philip
item Miles, Dana

Submitted to: Mitigating Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2008
Publication Date: 3/19/2008
Citation: Moore Jr, P.A., Burns, R., Miles, D.M. 2008. Reducing Ammonia Emissions from Poultry Litter with Alum. In: Proceedings of Mitigating Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations Conference, May 19-21, 2008, Des Moines, Iowa. p. 90-94.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Aluminum sulfate (alum) additions to poultry litter have been shown to reduce ammonia (NH3) volatilization. The objectives of this paper were to present data on the effects of alum treatment of poultry litter on: (1) the efficacy of reducing ammonia loss, (2) poultry production parameters, and (3) costs and benefits. Field trials conducted at commercial broiler farms showed that alum additions to poultry litter lowered litter pH, particularly during the first 3-4 weeks of each growout, which resulted in less ammonia volatilization and lower atmospheric ammonia. Reductions in ammonia emissions are determined by the rate of alum application; higher rates have been shown to reduce ammonia loss by 97% for the first four weeks of the growout; 75% for the entire growout. Typically ammonia levels in the atmosphere of alum-treated houses are below the critical level for humans and chickens (25 ppm), whereas in untreated houses ammonia concentrations are often above this threshold. Broilers grown on alum-treated litter have been shown to be heavier than birds grown on untreated litter (3.80 lbs vs 3.65 lbs), have lower mortality (3.9 vs 4.2%) and better feed efficiency (1.98 vs 2.04). Propane and electricity usage is also lower for alum-treated houses, since ventilation is lower in cooler months (due to lower ammonia levels). As a result of these production benefits this practice is cost-effective. Long-term paired watershed studies have shown alum additions to litter reduce P runoff by 70%, making this one of the few cost-effective best management practices that improves both air and water quality.