Composting and Odor Control
Basic Principles of Zeolite in Composting Operations
Zeolite has two methods of holding cations such as ammonium and plant nutrients. The
first method is by absorption in its porous matrix. The second method is by cation
exchange (CEC) - Zeolite holds ammonium and other plant nutrients in the crystal
structure where they are not water-soluble but are plant-accessible on an as-needed
time-release basis.
Zeolite Adds Value to Manure and Compost
Zeolite has a high affinity for the ammonium ion. This is a plant usable form of nitrogen.
One of only three forms of nitrogen that is plant accessible (ammonia/ammonium,
nitrates and nitrites). The introduction of Zeolite with the manure, compost, or lagoon
water to the soil has the added benefit of increasing water retention, holding the nitrogen
and other micro-nutrients in the growth zone, providing a medium for the future capture
of nitrogen, increasing the ion exchange capacity of the soil, and enhancing infiltration
and aeration of the soil. NASA has been experimenting with Zeolite as an efficient means
of holding water and plant nutrients in a growing media for deep space flights.
Zeolite Use in Compost or Dry Stacked Manure
The compost or dry stacked manure should be top-dressed with a thin layer of Zeolite
after it is turned or after the addition of a new layer of manure. Alternatively, a layer of
Zeolite should be placed in the area of the barn receiving the fresh manure. Composting
is an important process that (1) converts organically bound nitrogen that is not plant
accessible to ammonium hydroxide, ammonium nitrate, and ammonia that are all plant
accessible, (2) kills the pathogens, (3) reduces or eliminates the odor, (4) dries the
manure, (5) reduces the flies, and (6) kills weed seeds. Composting should be
conducted in-vessel to prevent groundwater and air pollution.
Odor Suppressant & Moisture Control for Livestock Operations
Natural Zeolite provides a healthy and economical solution for odor and moisture control
at barns, stables, pens and confined feedlot operations. Zeolite is non-hazardous, non-
corrosive, non-toxic, and 100% natural. It is simply mined from quarries and meshed to
various sizes for various applications. Zeolite treats manure in bedding lanes and
provides pen management by:
• Reducing ammonia odors in the bedding lanes and pens,
• Controlling moisture content of the bedding lane & pens,
• Improving integrity/longevity of pens & bedding lanes,
• Reducing NH3 CO2 & other Greenhouse gases,
• Absorbing nitrogen & improving manure compost, and
• Improving air quality & reducing groundwater contamination.
These and other operational advantages lead to economic, health and aesthetic
improvements over current operations that try to react with or mask odors. The Zeolite
mineral is the simple, innovative and natural solution the agriculture industry has been
looking for to vastly improve existing operations.
Zeolite will eliminate urine-generated ammonia odors from stables, feedlots, paddocks,
pens, litter boxes, hog & poultry houses, barns, and transportation trailers. Capturing
and holding ammonia (NH3) provides a safer and more comfortable environment for the
animals, the operators and the neighbouring community. The Zeolite structure via CEC
(cation exchange capacity) traps and holds ammonia and other animal odors without the
need for chemical additives (ie: lime and deodorants). The trapped ammonia allows for a
natural slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. The capture of ammonia prevents the loss of
valuable nitrogen nutrients into the atmosphere which is common in present operations.
Secondary benefits include the reduction of fly populations at the barn and manure pile.
Currently, a study has concluded with a leading feedlot in Alberta, Canada with very
positive results.
Ammonia, when inhaled can cause severe damage to the respiratory tract
in both animals and operators. Even low concentrations of ammonia have
proven to reduce or depress airway defense mechanisms. Atmospheric NH3
depresses the intrapulmonary phagocytosis and the bacteria from the
airways and lungs. This results in a higher incidence and severity of
pneumonia which is often encountered in young livestock. Studies have
revealed that higher concentrations of NH3 over prolonged exposure
periods result in decreased animal weight gain and conversion rates.
Zeolite also absorbs moisture from livestock bedding. Zeolite, when added
to bedding lanes is proven to ensure bedding lane longevity. Up to 40%
savings in operations is experienced in large feedlots by the addition of
Zeolite to bedding lanes due to reduced stall maintenance and change-
outs. A Zeolite enhanced bedding lane provides many advantages, both
economic and operational: reduces fly infestation, does not burn or crack
animals hooves (as does lime) and prevents sinking. The granular form of
Zeolite is non-dusting. It is important to keep the bedding dry especially for
new-borne and animals confined due to illness. Zeolite will retain moisture
and air in the soiled bedding. This accelerates manure composting. Zeolite
will not break down under trampling therefore providing better traction for
animals and personnel even when the material is wet. Tagging is also
reduced since the moisture is controlled. It is important to note that Zeolite
is easy to spread over the bedding lane and is effective with the first