Thermal Environment Performance and Uniformity Assessment for a Novel Swine Breeding and Gestation Facility

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Ramirez, Brett
Associate Professor
Hoff, Steven
Professor Emeritus
Harmon, Jay
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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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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

The Thermal Environment (TE) inside swine facilities has a substantial impact on animal performance and facility energy usage; therefore, proper control and measurement are required to maintain the optimal TE that maximizes performance and consumes minimal energy. Currently, controllers only monitor and describe the TE with dry-bulb temperature (tdb); however, tdb does not account for all the factors that influence the TE. Therefore, a novel Thermal Environment Sensor Array (TESA) network and accompanying data acquisition systems were developed for a preliminary investigation inside a commercial, ~800 hd, positive pressure ventilated, filtered breeding facility located in central Iowa. Data from the TESA network and from various ventilation system components from the installed controller would allow for control and distribution performance to be evaluated. Hence, the objectives of this research were: (1) evaluate the Thermal Environment Modification System (TEMS) controller response to seasonal and diurnal fluctuations; (2) implement and evaluate TESA and accompanying DAQ system performance; and (3) assess TE spatial uniformity across three pens. Six TESAs (two suspended per pen), each with: tdb, black globe temperature, airspeed, and relative humidity measurements were deployed since November 2015 to initially evaluate the performance and the robustness of this new system, as well as, explore the effectiveness and distribution of the facility’s thermal environmental modification and control system. Overall, the TESAs performed well, except for some dust accumulation on the tdb and black globe sensors. Results showed that tdb inside the facility was within ±1°C and ±2°C of the set point 36.3% and 75.3% of the monitoring period, respectively. A maximum 10.6°C above the set point and 5.2°C below the set point were recorded. The preliminary findings from this study will be useful for developing functional performance tests to commission livestock and poultry facilities. These functional performance tests will analyze fan performance, heater distribution, TEMS controller abilities, spatiotemporal TE uniformity, etc. The information obtained will allow facility operators to make better management practices that ultimately decrease production costs and improve the thermal comfort for the animals.


This proceeding is published as Ramirez, Brett C., Steven J. Hoff, Jay D. Harmon, and John P. Stinn. "Thermal Environment Performance and Uniformity Assessment for a Novel Swine Breeding and Gestation Facility." In 2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting. ASABE Paper 2454577. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2016. 10.13031/aim.20162454577. Posted with permission.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016