American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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Impact of In-Barn Manure Separation on Biological Air Quality in an Experimental Setup Identical to that in Swine Buildings

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 15(3): 225-240. (doi: 10.13031/2013.27407) @2009
Authors:   J. Lavoie, S. Godbout, S. P. Lemay, M. Belzile
Keywords:   Air quality, Dust, In-barn manure separation, Microbial aerosols, Pig housing

In-barn manure separation systems are becoming popular due to various environmental pressures on the swine industry. According to the literature, separation of feces and urine directly underneath the slats should have a positive impact on barn air quality. Removal and rapid separation of the two phases (solid/liquid) would reduce the dust and bioaerosol emissions, which would significantly improve the air quality in pig-housing facilities. From an occupational health and safety perspective, the maximum endotoxin and total bacteria concentrations to ensure workers’ safety should not exceed 450 endotoxin units per cubic meter of air (EU m-3) and 104 colony-forming units per cubic meter of air (CFU m-3), respectively. In the current study, the effect on air quality of six in-barn manure handling systems was measured. A flat scraper system and four separation systems installed under the slats (a conveyor belt system, a conveyor net system, and a V-shaped scraper operated at two operation frequencies) were evaluated and compared to a conventional pull-plug system (control). The experiment took place in twelve independent and identical rooms housing four grower-finisher pigs each, and air samples were collected and analyzed for total dust, endotoxins, bacteria, and mold counts. The results obtained from this experimental setup show that the separation of feces and urine under the slats would concentrate at least 80% of the phosphorus in the solid phase. The total bacteria and endotoxin concentrations are lower than those found in commercial hog barns but remain higher than the recommended levels. Only the total dust concentrations are approximately 10% of their regulated value. This separation has no impact on dust and bioaerosol concentrations compared to the control.

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