University Study Examines Livestock Farms

A recent Purdue University study hopes to shed light on federal air quality standards and livestock farms. The project leader, Al Heber, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, claims that his study is the largest of its kind and hopes that his data will be used by the EPA in creating emissions models. “This is some good, solid data to know what the emissions are for various species,” Heber said, “We didn’t know this before. This is something that we are really excited about, and I’m proud to have been involved.”

Industry leaders are cautiously assessing how the data will be used by the EPA and what the end results for livestock farmers will be. Josh Trenary, Indiana Pork director of business development, lauded Heber and his team, praising the dedication he showed in his two year project. He also urged caution, stating, “The completed data set has limited value as a regulatory tool… It is all about the interpretation. It is too early to tell what kind of effect the [study] will have on Indiana’s pork farmers, because the data has yet to be analyzed and distilled down to specific emissions factors.”

Data on ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions, major byproducts of many types of livestock farms, was measured in Heber’s study. These emissions are regulated by the EPA, and livestock producers must notify regulators if their emissions surpass regulated amounts. The study found that emissions vary based on a number of factors, including waste collection and treatment, types of animals raised, and weather. The $14 million study was funded by the Agricultural Air Research Council, an agricultural nonprofit, and oversaw by the EPA.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus staff writer