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Uncertainty in the measurement of indoor temperature and humidity in naturally ventilated dairy buildings as influenced by measurement technique and data variability

Hempel, Sabrina, König, Marcel, Menz, Christoph, Janke, David, Amon, Barbara, Banhazi, Thomas M., Estellés, Fernando, Amon, Thomas
Biosystems engineering 2018 v.166 pp. 58-75
air, animal welfare, animals, barns, cleaning, farm management, financial economics, gas emissions, heat, heat stress, instrumentation, measuring devices, microclimate, monitoring, relative humidity, risk, temperature, uncertainty, Germany
The microclimatic conditions in dairy buildings affect animal welfare and gaseous emissions. Measurements are highly variable due to the inhomogeneous distribution of heat and humidity sources (related to farm management) and the turbulent inflow (associated with meteorologic boundary conditions). The selection of the measurement strategy (number and position of the sensors) and the analysis methodology adds to the uncertainty of the applied measurement technique.To assess the suitability of different sensor positions, in situations where monitoring in the direct vicinity of the animals is not possible, we collected long-term data in two naturally ventilated dairy barns in Germany between March 2015 and April 2016 (horizontal and vertical profiles with 10 to 5 min temporal resolution). Uncertainties related to the measurement setup were assessed by comparing the device outputs under lab conditions after the on-farm experiments.We found out that the uncertainty in measurements of relative humidity is of particular importance when assessing heat stress risk and resulting economic losses in terms of temperature-humidity index. Measurements at a height of approximately 3 m–3.5 m turned out to be a good approximation for the microclimatic conditions in the animal occupied zone (including the air volume close to the emission active zone). However, further investigation along this cross-section is required to reduce uncertainties related to the inhomogeneous distribution of humidity. In addition, a regular sound cleaning (and if possible recalibration after few months) of the measurement devices is crucial to reduce the instrumentation uncertainty in long-term monitoring of relative humidity in dairy barns.