Comparison of Direct vs. Indirect Ventilation Rate Determinations in Layer Barns using Manure Belts

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Li, Hong
Liang, Yi
Wheeler, Eileen
Heber, Albert
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Xin, Hongwei
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Direct measurement of building ventilation rate in livestock housing is a formidable task due to uncontrollable variations in fan and system performance that are caused by factors such as building static pressure, fan belt slippage, and dust accumulation on shutters and blades. Estimating building ventilation rate by an indirect method based on a CO2 balance offers a potentially viable alternative to direct measurement. The validity of the CO2 balance method depends on the validity of relationship between CO2 production inside the building and metabolic rate of the animals and the knowledge of CO2 generation by the housing environment. Metabolic rates of modern laying hens have recently been quantified in intensive large-scale laboratory measurements. However, performance of the indirect method remains to be evaluated under field conditions. This article compares building ventilation rates obtained by direct measurement and by a CO2 balance. The test was conducted at a commercial laying hen house that used manure belts with daily manure removal. The results indicate that ventilation rates estimated by the indirect method were not significantly different (P > 0.2) from those as determined by the direct measurement when the averaging or integration time interval was 2 h or longer. Careful application of the indirect method could greatly improve the affordability and versatility of endeavors toward quantifying air emissions from confined animal housing.


This article is from Transactions of the ASAE 48, no. 1 (2005): 367–372.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2005