Scrubbing The Barn Air

A northeast Iowa hog farm may be the first in the nation to have filtered air going in and out of a 24-hundred-head finishing facility. This was done for the health of the pigs, and to protect the neighbor’s noses.

Dr. Ross Kiehne is a swine veterinarian with the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota. He helped design an air scrubber filtration system design for Reicks View farms. Kiehne says the scrubber, which is commonly known as a cool cell, sits over a pit and recycles water.

"This is a 100% filtered barn as well, so all of the air coming in would go through what we call a HEPA filter, so we have a 98%-99% reduction in viruses and bacteria coming in. It goes into the attic and then top down over the pigs and out the fans, then it goes through the scrubber," says Kiehne. "So, the fans pull it through the scrubber and it’s the actual cool cell with water dripping through it that actually removes the dust and reduces the odor."

Iowa State University tests after the scrubbing showed a 55% reduction in ammonia and odor emissions. A wind barrier was built outside the barn to prevent direct head winds from reducing the barn’s efficiency, and as another tool for odor reduction.

Kiehne says there is on-going maintenance because the filters do get dirty.

"We have to have a continual program of washing these down, we don’t have rain inside the barn so one of the hardest things to do here is to keep that clean," he says. "It has to be part of your chore list probably weekly to really do it right. So, we’ll wash that down because it collects so much dust."