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Use of aluminum sulfate (alum) as a feedlot surface amendment to reduce ammonia emissions from beef feedlots

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

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801541.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801541)
Authors:   Mindy J Spiehs, Bryan L Woodbury
Keywords:   Alum, Aluminum sulfate, Ammonia, Beef, Feedlot surface

Abstract. The poultry industry has successfully used aluminum sulfate (alum) as a litter amendment to reduce NH3 emissions from poultry barns but the technology has not been utilized in the beef industry. The objective of this study was to measure NH3 from feedlot surface material (FSM) containing alum. A 33-day lab-scale study was conducted using pans containing FSM and either 0, 2.5, 5, or 10% alum. The pH of the FSM was significantly lower (P < 0.01) when treated with 2.5, 5, and 10% alum as opposed to the 0% alum treatment. Ammonia emissions were immediately reduced when FSM was treated with alum. No NH3 volatilization occurred below a pH of 6.5. A second study was conducted at the feedlot. Six feedlot pens that recently had cattle removed were used. In each pen, three areas were treated with 5% alum and three areas were left untreated. There was a significant decrease (P < 0.01) in pH in the areas of the pens where alum was added compared to those that did not receive alum. Ammonia concentrations were lower (P < 0.05) for the areas that received alum compared to those that did not receive alum for the first 7 days of the study, but were higher for the alum-treated locations on Day 10, and similar between the two areas for the remainder of the study. We concluded that 5% alum may reduce NH3 emissions from beef feedlots, although frequent reapplication may be needed to maintain the suppression in NH3.

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