At an American Society of Microbiology meeting in Boston, Mass., Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Cheryl Spence reported the results of a study in which “dusting” hog manure with borax powder–the same substance used in laundry detergents–helps to neutralize the malodorous microbes, which include sulfate-reducing (SR) and other anaerobic bacteria.
Using molecular genetics tools, the team measured the treatment’s effects on the manure’s resident SR bacterial population, which produces hydrogen sulfide. The team’s analyses of bacteria and air showed the borax treatments reduced SR populations by 99 percent after the first week, and hydrogen sulfide levels by 80 percent after six weeks.
Borax offers a promising addition for researchers evaluating manure-odour management because the mineral is naturally occurring, fairly safe to handle, and readily available, notes Spence.
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