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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2001

Use of electronic noses for detection of odour from animal production facilities: a review

Nimmermark, Sven


In the field of controlling livestock and poultry odours in the internal and external environment and in derived food products, one main obstacle is how to measure the odour in a suitable way. Olfactometry and a human panel have been used in most studies of farm odour until now. Alternatives like electronic noses are interesting considering disadvantages for olfactometry regarding cost and labour requirement. An electronic device can produce an almost instant response which is useful in many applications. Studies have shown detection of farm odour for some electronic noses and also response to odour concentrations. Other studies have shown very high odour threshold values compared to human noses. Electronic noses with a large number of sensors have been developed since a base was formed in the 1950s. The fast progress in data processing and sensor development in the latest years have made the electronic noses interesting for a large number of industrial applications in the food processing industry, as well as in other areas. Materials like manure produce a complex mixture of odorous compounds and the interaction between these creates a unique odour where no specific dominating and characterising compound seems to exist. Related to swine farms almost 200 different odorous compounds have been reported. The electronic noses can, depending on the sensitivity of its sensors, detect some compounds at lower levels than the human nose, while other compounds offensive to a human nose cannot be detected. Proper function of the electronic noses with sensitivity for the odorous gases in the application must be followed by satisfying properties regarding ageing, temperature stability, humidity and other environmental factors.


agriculture; animals; electronic nose; farming; measurement; odour

Published in

Water Science and Technology
2001, volume: 44, number: 9, pages: 33-41

Authors' information

Nimmermark, Sven
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Biosystems and Technology

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Management
Agricultural Science

URI (permanent link to this page)