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Engineer studies ways to reduce ag emissions, odor

Engineer studies ways to reduce ag emissions, odor

MU Extension engineer Teng Lim

MU Extension engineer Teng Lim speaks with a group about odor and emission control for agricultural buildings. 

A new study could soon help livestock producers monitor and control building emissions and odor.

As part of his work as a University of Missouri Extension professor and engineer, Teng Teeh Lim was involved with the National Air Emission Monitoring Study. He says this national effort provided a look at agricultural building emissions.

“The NAEMS was a national emission monitoring effort, conducted by multiple universities in the U.S., with EPA oversight, to estimate emissions from various animal facilities including those raising pigs, broiler chickens, egg-laying operations and dairies,” Lim says. “The study monitored barns and lagoons in 10 states over two years to measure emissions of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.”

Lim says the data will be used to design emission models.

“I was involved in collecting and calculating the emissions data from a pig finishing farm and a dairy farm,” he says. “EPA is currently developing draft emission models using the data gathered, conducting review and improvements. It is expected that there will be individual emission models for the key pollutants and each of the animal feeding operations.”

Controlling odor and emissions remains a key issue for livestock producers, Lim says.

“It is important for animal farmers to pay attention to the overall odor potentials and management,” he says.

Lim says there are a variety of things producers can do to mitigate odors and manage their buildings.

“Odor control and mitigation can differ depending on the type of building and species,” he says. “In general, keeping good ventilation, thus good air exchange and drier surfaces, maintaining equipment and general building cleanliness and hygiene are critical to reducing odor issues.”

Feed decisions can also play a role, Lim says.

“Use good-quality feed and proper ration to reduce nutrient excretion, and good water quality for drinking water,” he says. Some water sources can have relatively high sulfur and can contribute to odor.”

Lim says dust is also an important consideration for ag facilities. Producers can take advantage of new technology.

“When possible, keep dust from feed handling operations to a minimum,” he says. “When needed, there are feed additives and diet manipulation that can be applied to reduce odors too. There are other mitigation technologies that can be considered.”

Greenhouse gas emissions are another priority for many livestock producers, and Lim says ag groups have been working on the topic.

“Some of the commodity groups such as dairies are committing to reducing their overall greenhouse gases emissions,” he says.

Lim says some farmers have participated in carbon offset incentive programs, where they can get paid to implement practices that sequester gasses.

Ray Massey, a University of Missouri professor of applied economics, says some of the carbon offset activities could include covering lagoons, or implementing no-till practices or cover crops. He says many of these carbon offset programs are voluntary, but they could become more regulated.

“This has garnered a lot of attention,” Massey says. “It is a hot topic. I’m talking about it a lot.”

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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