An Assessment of Ammonia Emissions from Dairy Facilities in Pennsylvania
Environmental Health and Protection
Large or Food Animal and Equine Medicine
Medicine and Health Sciences
Water Resource Management
A survey of 715 Holstein dairy farms in Pennsylvania was used to construct demographics for the average Holstein dairy farm. The average Holstein dairy farm was composed of 69 lactating cows; 11 nonlactating, pregnant cows; 44 heifers; and 18 calves. Milk production averaged 27.3 kg (60.0 lb). Crop area averaged 73.6 ha. Milk production, crop area and type, average county yields, and herd animal groups were used to construct a typical feeding program for these farms. Typical rations were constructed for six feeding groups (three milk production groups, one nonlactating group, two heifer groups) to meet milk production, pregnancy, and growth requirements. Rations were constructed based on three forage qualities (excellent, average, and poor) typically observed on Pennsylvania dairy farms. Data for animal description (milk production, body weight, growth, and pregnancy status) and ration components and amounts consumed for each animal group were input into the excretion model of the Dairy Nutrient Planner computer program (DNP). Excretion of fecal N and dry matter (DM), urinary N, and total P and K were produced for each animal group and used to assess potential volatile losses of N. Work at the Marshak Dairy, New Bolton Center, indicates the majority of urinary N is rapidly lost as ammonia from dairy facilities. Based on this observation, the losses of N as ammonia were estimated to be 4.63, 4.62, and 4.28 tonne/year for the farm with excellent, average, and poor quality forages, respectively. Volatile losses of N may be reduced most by controlling levels of urea in urine. Urinary N may be reduced through dietary manipulation of protein and carbohydrate sources. Conversion of urea to ammonia may be reduced by altering the pH of barn floors and gutters. Entrapment of ammonia may be accomplished by acidification of manure slurry. Atmospheric ammonia contributes to acid rain, eutrophication of estuaries and lakes, and particulate air pollution. Reduction of ammonia emissions from dairy barns can significantly reduce atmospheric pollution and improve air and water quality.