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GHG Effect of Ammonia Emission from Poultry Barns

November 8, 2014

Poultry farms in Abbotsford emit an estimated 1862 tonnes of ammonia, resulting in an equivalent of 11,023 tonnes CO2 equivalent GHG emission.

One of the sources of ammonia emission in Abbotsford is our poultry farms. Bittman et al. (2010) provided ammonia deposition measurements during and after the Avian Flu in 2004, where the poultry farms were depopulated. They observed that ammonia emission and deposition increased rapidly in some areas shortly after repopulation. Brisbin (1994) estimated 20% losses of excreted N as ammonia from broiler production and up to 40% losses from layer production. The rationale for the lower emission rate with broiler production was that inclusion of bedding reduced ammonia losses. The US EPA (2004) estimated that the average ammonia emission from poultry (including broilers, layers and turkeys) was 31% of N excreted.

Our objective here is to verify ammonia emission rates during poultry production, and provide an estimate of total ammonia emission from poultry production in Abbotsford. This emission rate can also be used to estimate indirect N2O emissions.

Nitrogen Excretion Rates from Poultry in Abbotsford

There are variations in nitrogen excretion rates from poultry. I have provided a few estimates from the literature to update the 1994 N excretion rates in the attached table. To estimate the N excretion from poultry in Abbotsford, I used the 2011 census data and the best N excretion rates available (local preferred, otherwise most recent).

The greatest amount of nitrogen is excreted during poultry broiler production (5,087 tonnes of N per year) because of the high animal population, followed by poultry layers (1,238 tonnes of N per year), plus additional N excreted from other poultry types. The amount of N excreted as manure from poultry in Abbotsford per year is estimated at 7,844 tonnes.

Nitrogen excretion by poultry in Abbotsford

Nitrogen excretion by poultry in Abbotsford

Ammonia Emission from Poultry Broiler Production

In the 1994 nutrient balance study of agriculture in the Fraser Valley, ammonia emission during poultry broiler production was estimated at 20% of N excreted. Paul et al. (1997) reported ammonia emission rates of 15% of total N fed to broiler chickens and 24.8% of the excreted N. Nitrogen use efficiency by the birds was 43.2%. Ammonia emissions from broiler production were estimated at 8.1% of nitrogen intake or about 15% of N excretion in southern California (Harper et al. 2010).

Calvet et al. (2011) calculated an average ammonia emission of 19.7 and 18.1 mg/hour per bird during broiler production in southern Europe during the summer and winter, respectively. This corresponds to 15% of N excreted based on N excretion rates of 0.86 kg per bird per year equivalent.

Battye et al. (1994) suggested an emission factor of 0.167 kg NH3 per broiler per year. In a review of the literature, Ritz et al. (2004) reported ammonia emissions rates of 2 to 22% of N excreted (based on N excretion rates of 0.86 kg per bird per year). Prescatore et al. (2005) reported that in Europe, ammonia emissions are estimated at approximately 20% of N excreted, based on replacing bedding after every cycle. They found that ammonia emissions increased up to 50% when more than one cycle of broilers was raised on the same bedding.

It is important to note that both increased moisture content and increased temperature will increase ammonia emissions (Miles 2013 and Miles et al. 2013). We can expect that our humid winters in particular will increase the potential for ammonia emission.

Based on the additional research on ammonia emissions during poultry broiler production, we will continue to estimate ammonia emissions from the barn at 20% of N excreted.

Ammonia Emission from Poultry Layer Production

Battye et al. (1994) summarized the literature and estimated a N emission rate of 0.305 kg NH3 per poultry layer per year, or 30% of N excreted if we assume an N excretion rate of 0.84 kg N per bird. The US EPA (2004) estimated 0.4 kg NH3 or 40% of N excreted.

Ammonia emission during poultry layer production appears to vary with the type of manure management. Fournel et al. (2012) reported NH3 emissions of 0.032 kg/yr/hen with a manure belt system compared with emissions of 0.389 kg/hen/yr with a deep-pit system. Liang (2006) reported an average NH3 emission of 0.31 kg/hen/yr from 4 deep pit poultry layer systems compared with 0.02 kg/hen/yr from two layer barns using manure belts. Wang et al. (2009) reported ammonia emission rates ranging from 0.026 to 0.135 kg from manure belt laying systems and was dependent on the time interval for manure removal from the barn.

Brisbin (1994) did not note any manure belt systems for layer operations, and that most of the layer operations used solid pits with no fans to dry the manure. We will assume similar management, therefore the estimated N emission of 40% will still be current.

Ammonia Emission from Poultry in Abbotsford

Using the 2011 Census data, the N excretion rates calculated above based on a review of literature, and the ammonia emission factors used in the 1994 study (Brisbin 1994), we can calculate the estimated ammonia emission from poultry production in Abbotsford. For comparison, we used the emission factors developed by Battye et al. (1994) used for the US EPA. The two estimates happen to be remarkably close at 1848 and 1862 tonnes ammonia-N per year.

Ammonia emission from poultry production in Abbotsford

Ammonia emission from poultry production in Abbotsford

NH3 from poultry

We measured ammonia emissions during broiler production in four separate rooms at the research center in Agassiz. We measured the effect of improved diets and addition of adsorbents to the litter.

Ammonia Emission Contributes to Nitrous Oxide Emission

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change guidelines recommended including ammonia emissions in greenhouse gas calculations. The estimated the indirect effect of NH3 emission on nitrous oxide production to 2% (IPCC 2006). Given the estimates of 1862 tonnes per year of ammonia emission from poultry housing, and given that the carbon dioxide equivalent of nitrous oxide is 296 times, we have a total of 11,023 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions resulting from ammonia emissions in our poultry barns. We can use this number later in estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in Abbotsford.

Battye, R. W. Battye, C. Overcash and S. Fudge. 1994. Development and selection of ammonia emission factors. Final report for US EPA.

Bittman, S., J. Tait, D. Hunt, S. Sheppard, K. Chipperfield and Q. Zheng. 2010. Ammonia emission inventory for farms in the Lower Fraser Valley with detailed spatial and temporal resolution. 15th International Union of Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Associations’ World Clean Air Congress, Vancouver, BC Sept 2010.

BC Ministry of Agriculture. 1997. Minimizing Pollution from Poultry Manure: 1. Nitrogen. Poultry Factsheet.
Brisbin, P.E. 1997. Agricultural Nutrient Management in the Lower Fraser Valley. DOE FRAP 1995-27. Environment Canada.

Calvet, S., M. Cambra-Lopez, F. Estelles and A.G. Torres. 2011. Characterization of gas emissions from a Mediterranean broiler farm. Poultry Science 90: 534-542.

Fournel, S., F. Pelletier, S. Godbout, R. Laglace and J.J.R. Feddes. 2012. Odour emissions, hedonic tones and ammonia emissions from three cage layer housing systems. Biosystems Engineering 112: 181-191.

Harper, L.A., T.K. Flesch and J.D. Wilson. 2010. Ammonia emissions from broiler production in the San Joaquin Valley. Poultry Science 89: 1802-1814.

IPCC. 2006. 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Volume 4. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use. Chapter 10. Emissions from Livestock and Manure Management.

Liang, Y., H. Xin, H. Li, R.S. Gates, E.F. Wheeler and K.D. Casey. 2006. Effects of measurement intervals on estimation of ammonia emissions from layer houses. Transactions of the ASABE 49: 183-186.

Miles, D.M. 2013. Poultry litter moisture management to reduce ammonia. LivestockGRACEnet. USDA

Miles, D.M., J.P. Brooks, M.R. McLaughlin and D. E. Rowe. 2013. Broiler litter ammonia emissions near sidewalls, feeders and waterers. Poultry Science 92: 1693-1698.

Pescatore, A.J. K.D. Casey and R.S. Gates. 2005. Ammonia emissions from broiler houses. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 14: 635-637.

Paul, J.W., T.A. Scott and P.K. Barton. 1997. Ammonia emissions and nitrogen balances during poultry broiler production. Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre – Agassiz. Technical Report # 133. January 1997.

Ritz, C.W., B.D. Fairchild and M.P. Lacy. 2004. Implications of ammonia production and emissions from commercial poultry facilities: A review. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 13: 684-692.

Sirri, F. and A. Meluzzi. 2012. Effect of sequential feeding on nitrogen excretion, productivity, and meat quality of broiler chickens. Poultry Science 91: 316-321.

Smith, K.A., D.R. Charles and D. Moorhouse. 2000. Nitrogen excretion by farm livestock with respect to land spreading requirements and controlling nitrogen losses to ground and surface waters. Part 2: pigs and poultry. Bioresource Technology 71: 183-194.

US EPA. 2004. National Emission Inventory-Ammonia Emissions from Animal Husbandry Operations (Draft Report, January 30, 2004). http// 2004.

Valli, L., S. Piccinnini and G. Bonazzi. 2004. Ammonia emission from two poultry manure drying systems. In V.C. Nielsen, J.H. Voorburg, P. L’Hermite. Odour and Ammonia Emissions from Livestock Farming.

Wang, W., L. Zhao, X. Wang, R. Manuzon, H. Li, M. Darr, H. Keener, A Heber and J. Ni. 2009. Estimation of ammonia emission from manure belt poultry layer houses using an alternate mass-balance method. Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Conference Papers, Posters and Presentations.

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