A review by experts at Iowa State University finds most of the studies on ways to handle the odor and emissions from animal livestock facilities in the state fail to get very far.
Dan Andersen in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering says they looked at odor control research projects in three areas.
“One from the animal housing itself, two from the way they’re storing or handling their manure. And three, from their land application area,” Andersen says. “So, we were really curious about what people had tried — and what research had been done on that.”
“There’s a lot of things that are studied in the lab, and very few of those actually make it to field testing. Which does make some sense. Certainly we’re more willing to try things that might be a little crazy or hard to implement in the lab,” according to Andersen.
He says it is surprising given the concerns about livestock odors in Iowa that more of the lab tests haven’t advanced.
“And some of that is related to costs and some of it is related to what they found in the lab-scale studies. But I still think it is unfortunate that a lot of these options never make it all the way to the field studies,” Andersen says. “The other thing that we saw is that a lot of the research has tended to focus on swine production systems. Which certainly they can be contributors to odor, but other production systems also are pretty key contributors to odors both in this state around the midwest. So, it is a little surprising that so much of the attention has been just on hogs.”
Andersen says one of the other issues they found is the studies cover a variety of issues related to the odor, but few look at a broader picture of what needs to be done.
“For instance, often times a study might focus just on ammonia, or just on greenhouse emissions, or just on odor, rather than putting all the pieces together,” Andersen explains. “So I think some of it is just making sure as scientist we are all laying the foundation to say as we evaluate this technology are we thinking about both what we are really trying to focus on today — but sort of that big picture of where the demands for agriculture might go.”
Andersen says moving some of these lab studies forward could be a way to find something that works and is cost effective.
“We are at a point where a lot of those things that really make a high impact are still pretty costly to implement. So, I think a lot of the focus needs to be looking at these technologies that have shown promise — things like bio-filters or covered manure storages — and really looking at way to make them cost feasible for farms to implement,” Andersen says.
Andersen and others looked at more than 260 research papers on the effectiveness of technologies intended to control gaseous, odor and particulate emissions from livestock and poultry operations.