“We have demonstrated in our lab work and on small scale tests on commercial swine and poultry farms that this process will work. Now, we are waiting for industry to take our results and convert this system into a product that will be available to farmers,” Vanotti says.

In a commercial application there are several benefits from using this type system, the USDA researcher says.

From an environmental standpoint, the ammonium trapped in this system is recovered before it escapes into the air.

Removing the ammonium from the air will help production facilities better comply with clean air standards.

Perhaps as importantly, it will make the working environment much better for farm workers, making it easier to find and keep a quality workforce in place.

“On the swine farms where we had systems of ammonia removal in place, the farmers noted a significant improvement in the workplace. And, it also provides a better environment for the animals being raised in confinement and likely will improve production,” Vanotti says.

In on-farm test with a hog producer, the ammonia removal system worked well enough to take 75 percent of the ammonium out of the air in the swine house. In this house, animal mortality dropped by 47 percent.

Decreasing mortality has a double benefit to poultry producers. The obvious advantage is producers have more birds to sell and make more efficient and profitable use of feed and other inputs used to produce the bird.

It also alleviates the need of disposing of dead birds, which can be a significant cost and a potential environmental risk.

Though animal performance was not documented in this series of on-farm testing, it is reasonable to assume that production would be increased, due to an improved environment inside the poultry house, Vanotti notes.

“In one of our on-farm tests, there was a mechanical problem with the system, and it quit working. The farmer recognized the problem almost immediately and called us. That was good indication that the ammonia removal system was valuable to the farmer, and when working properly, was a good indication that it was valuable to operations,” Vanotti says.

Vanotti points out that these impressive results came from using older technology based on biological ammonia removal treatment from liquid wastewater and re-using the clean water to flush the houses.

He says the new systems for ammonia removal from poultry and swine facilities could be has been much more efficient than the systems used in previous on-farm tests.

The new swine and poultry systems are slightly different, requiring the USDA to file for two different patents. However, Vanotti contends the swine and poultry systems are very similar and both have worked equally well in on-farm tests.