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Morrill Hall of Agriculture
446 W. Circle Dr. Room 310
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 432-1555

Current and on-going research at AAQRF

Development of a matrix tool for livestock emissions mitigation
Funded by USDA NRICG Air Quality Program Duration: 7/1/08 – 6/30/13

Animal production facilities are under pressure to adopt mitigation strategies that reduce air emissions. Diet modification, a pre-excretion approach, and manure amendments strategies, a post excretion approach, have demonstrated promise in reducing air emissions. However, the extent of improvements made by either diet or post-excretion strategies, independently, may not be sufficient to meet compliance needs. A novel approach to dietary mitigation challenges the current paradigm in that in addition to reducing nutrient excesses, it pushes the animal to be more efficient. Coupled with post-excretion amendments, the results offer greater reduction potential than anything studied to date.

Much of recent research funding has focused on monitoring studies with far less work directed at mitigation. This project builds on our previous work and emphasizes delivery to producers of mitigation options and the tools needed to make mitigation decisions. Outputs from this work include a decision matrix that integrates the impact of pre- and post-excretion mitigation approaches.

The overarching objective of this proposal is to establish the long-term impact of specific pre- and post-excretion mitigation strategies, alone and in combination. Our objectives are to:

  1. Advance current diet modification efforts to reduce air emissions by improving the utilization of nutrients and evaluating excreta nutrient form modifiers;
  2. Determine the duration of beneficial effects of dietary strategies during manure storage;
  3. Combine pre-excretion (diet) mitigation strategies with post-excretion strategies in an effort to obtain synergistic effects; and
  4. Impart the findings to the end-user for implementation by providing a matrix tool for mitigation decision-making.

Source reduction and mitigations strategies for air emissions from turkeys, laying hens, and growing cattle
Funded by USDA NRICG Air Quality Program Duration: 5/1/05 – 4/30/09

Air emissions from animal feeding operations are under increasing scrutiny. It is anticipated that regulation of these emissions will occur in the near future. However, there are limited data that document what current emissions are. The purpose of this project is to establish baseline emissions from growing cattle and turkeys. Simultaneously, the impact of diet modification strategies will be evaluated to quantify the impact that a change in diet can have on gaseous emissions.

Our specific objectives for this grant include identifying promising feed strategies by measuring manure/litter emission reductions, in vitro, in ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and specific volatile organic carbons that occur following implementation of the dietary changes in metabolism studies. We will also establish emission data for ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, nitrous oxide, sulfur oxides, methane, and specific volatile organic carbons from the growing cattle and turkeys and their manure/litter when fed typical diets (baseline emissions) and reduced emission diets. We will evaluate mitigation strategies that involve not only dietary changes but post-excretion manure/litter storage techniques and apply our findings to the animal and manure handling component of the conceptual farm-level mass balance model proposed by the Committee on Animal Nutrition (NRC, 2003) that estimates emission concentrations and identifies the relative proportion of each form of emission (ie., N2, NOx, N2O, NH3) based on nutrient flows through a whole farm system, and challenge that model such that the accuracy of the model to predict air emissions is improved. The findings of our work will be shared with students, producers, and policymakers through development of decision-making tools.

Modeling emissions from animal agriculture
Funded by USDA NRICG Air Quality Program Duration: 7/1/04 – 6/30/09

Air emissions from animal feeding operations are under increasing scrutiny. It is anticipated that regulation of these emissions will occur in the near future. However, there are limited data that document what current emissions are. The purpose of this project is to establish baseline emissions from lactating dairy cattle. Once established, the impact of diet modification strategies will be evaluated.

We will identify the current deficiencies of the conceptual farm-level mass balance model proposed by the Committee on Animal Nutrition (NRC, 2003) that estimates emission concentrations and identify the relative proportion of each form of emission (ie., N2, NOx, N2O, NH3) based on nutrient flows through a whole farm system, with emphasis on the animal component. Following, this project will establish emission data from the animals themselves fed typical diets for emissions that include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, nitrous oxide, sulfur oxides, methane, and specific volatile organic carbons.

We will identify promising feed strategies and measure emission reductions in ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, nitrous oxide, sulfur oxides, methane, and specific volatile organic carbons that occur following implementation of the dietary regimen. Findings will challenge the existing model with actual mass balance data obtained from the research proposed in this grant and modify the model, as needed, based on the actual animal generated mass balance information such that the accuracy of the model to predict air emissions is improved. Our findings will quantify the proportion of the total emissions that is accounted for by the different components of the model as well as the measurements that go into the model components such that a few measurements can be identified that account for the greatest proportion of the air emissions. These measurements will be shared with regulatory agencies as the best implementation tools at the farm level. Project investigators will impart the information learned and strategies identified to students, producers, and policymakers and use the information gained to move forward on the long-term goals of the research team that focus on implementation of the modified model to whole farm systems as a component of a holistic program that evaluates the fate of emissions on animal, worker, and citizen health.

Development of an National Air Quality Self Assessment Tool (National AQSAT) for livestock producers
Funded by USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants Program Duration: 10/1/08 – 9/30/09

Local matching fund contributors include National Pork Board, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Michigan Pork Producers Association, C.E. Meadows Endowment, MSUE

The overarching goal of this team is to provide assistance to producers for making decisions on how best to improve air quality on their livestock operations. This project will fill a current void by providing a user-friendly self-assessment guide that can be proactively utilized without the threat of regulatory intervention. This project is responding to the needs of producers to 1) have readily available information to help them make decisions on how to best improve/manage emissions from their site(s), 2) provide a tool that is accessible, easy to use, and quantitative without the threat of regulatory intervention, and 3) integrate this tool with other currently available tools.

We will accomplish the three goals by:

  1. Developing a self-assessment guide that targets where improvements in air quality management can be made within a production system;
  2. Field testing the tool at swine facilities around the state;
  3. Conducting a peer-review of the developed product (tool); and
  4. Refining the tool prior to public release on a Michigan State University Extension website that provides links to other tools that are compatible with the product developed as a result of this proposal.

The result of the 2-year project will be an online tool that allows a producer to walk through their own site and determine where a mitigation practice can have the greatest impact on air quality. Producers will be able to select a gas of interest or odor as their primary reduction objective and from there decide where to implement a mitigation strategy as well as estimate the benefit of any strategy considered. Following development this multispecies tool will be available to all producers who are considering a new operation, an expansion, or just want to reduce emissions from their existing operation.

States involved in the project include California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Read about the AAQRF here.