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Big Reductions in Livestock Odors Possible Through Biofilters

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The smells that come from an animal feeding operation are -potent-. Usually a mix of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, the stench isn't just unpleasant; it can contribute to lower property values of neighboring real estate.

Dr. Steven Hoff with Iowa State University is an expert on biofilters, which push air through material such as wood mulch, where microbes reduce malodors heading out of the facility.

Putting in a biofilter requires an upgrade of the existing fans in a given building, and comes at a loss to the producer. But you won't find a lot of them around Iowa. Hoff says that's because, if producers do things right, they shouldn't even need biofilters.

"The situation that might require odor reduction could be a situation where a producer is sort of land locked on a location on a facility," says Hoff. "It may not be the best setting choice, so a biofilter could be investigated as an add-on component to the building to release those odors to surrounding neighbors."

At the Scheman Building in Ames on August 20th, I-S-U will hold a biofilter conference for producers and managers; scientists will address biofilter research and design, as well as the science behind using microbes to fight odors. You can read more about the conference by clicking here.