Air Emissions and Animal Agriculture

Odor in the barn

Reducing odor starts in the barn and farmers are doing a lot to prevent the smell.

Similar to an air filter in your house, one of the ways to reduce the smell of livestock is to install a filtration system. When these filters are set up in barns, they strain out the dust in the air – which is one of the main carriers of odor. A special type of filter is called a biofilter. This filter is inoculated with aerobic bacteria that break down the odorous compounds into smaller, less smelly compounds.

Another method to lower livestock odor and keep it from wafting towards the neighbors, is to build an impermeable barrier around barns. An example of this would be something like a wall built directly downwind of exhaust fans, which is a physical barrier to stop dust altogether.

For some farmers, the way to reduce dust is to keep it from floating in the air. One way to do this is to sprinkle it with vegetable oil. One study found that oil sprinkling reduced odor 40% to 70%. It’s important, though, that farmers consider safety with this method, because surfaces can be slippery when oiled down.

On lots of farms, doing a little decorative landscaping could be the trick to reducing odor from livestock housing. In addition to making the property look nicer, trees and shrubs can help filter the particles that hold odor. How’s that for a two-in-one solution?

Finally, some farmers pay close attention to the idea that “What goes in, must come out.” By altering livestock diets, they can reduce the odor that is associated with manure. In one study, researchers found that lowering the amount of crude protein in a pig’s daily ration could result in as much as a 20% reduction in smell.

Learn more:

National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT)

Practices to Reduce Odor

Air Management Practices Assessment Tool (AMPAT)

Last Updated 11/02/2011