New research shows that aluminum chloride — a compound often used in deodorant sticks for humans — can help reduce phosphorus runoff and ammonia emissions from livestock facilities.

Alum, also called aluminum sulfate, has been used in the poultry industry years for years. In poultry litter, the alum grabs onto the phosphate and keeps it from escaping into waterways and reduces the buildup of ammonia gas in chicken houses. However, when alum is used on liquid manure from pigs and dairy cattle it generates smelly sulfuric gases.

That led researchers, led by soil scientist Philip A. Moore, Jr., at the ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit in Fayetteville, to look for a better alternative. Moore is also the researcher who discovered the benefits of using alum in the poultry industry.

New research shows that aluminum chloride is a better aluminum product for treating the liquid manure associated with pigs and dairy cows. According to the research, “aluminum chloride can impressively — and cost-effectively — reduce phosphorus runoff and atmospheric ammonia levels in animal facilities.”

That's significant, since high atmospheric ammonia levels threaten the respiratory health of both animals and farm workers. They also negatively affect water quality by increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition.

To learn more about the research from the November/December 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, follow this link.

Source: Agricultural Research Service