Purdue News

May 2, 2005

Farm odor, air quality studies earn Purdue Agriculture Team Award

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - When big farms meet suburbia, the melding of the two lifestyles can be bumpy, but an interdisciplinary research group focuses on easing that relationship by alleviating odor, gas and dust emitted from livestock production facilities.

The research group's work has earned the 2005 Purdue University Agriculture Team Award.

The Purdue Agricultural Air Quality Team was launched in 1993 when the university committed to developing a research and extension program aimed specifically at addressing public concerns about possible air pollutants produced at large animal operations. Since the collaboration's inception, the researchers have developed innovative laboratories, instrumentation and buildings that allow efficient collection of data for finding practical solutions.

"The growing concern about air quality in and around livestock facilities led to Purdue Agriculture taking a proactive role in identifying and reducing the problems," said Randy Woodson, Dean of Purdue Agriculture. "This is important for the well-being of farm families, farm neighbors, farm employees, the animals themselves, and also for the economic viability of Indiana's more than $2 billion annual animal production."

Woodson will present this year's award to the team on May 10. A public open house at the Air Quality Laboratory will precede the ceremony. Team members include Albert Heber, Jiqin Ni, Teng Lim and Claude Diehl, all of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Alan Sutton, Scott Radcliffe, Brian Richert and Dan Kelly, all of the Department of Animal Sciences; Richard Grant of the Department of Agronomy; Ching Ching Wu of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory; and Neil Zimmerman of the School of Health Sciences.

One of the first projects the team tackled was field testing of air quality and odor control in eight 1,000-head swine barns in Indiana and Illinois. In the process, a mobile laboratory was built that could be transported to animal production farms to monitor air quality under actual field conditions. The team also designed, obtained funding for and built a state-of-the-art laboratory on Purdue's campus to measure and analyze field data.

"Each member of our team, along with many other collaborators at Purdue and other universities, has contributed uniquely and essentially to the investigation of air quality," Heber said.

Recently the team began using a new facility at the Purdue farms that enhances the studies. The 15,500-square-foot, 12-room Swine Environmental Research Building can house 720 hogs and mimics actual livestock farm conditions. It's the only facility of its kind in the United States.

The combination of real-farm working conditions and statistical replication allows proper testing of odor abatement technology and methods, according to team members. They can measure the effects of changing pigs' diets, their housing arrangements, and modes of manure storage and disposal on emissions of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, nitrous oxide, odor and dust.

The Purdue Agricultural Air Quality Team recently was selected to lead a $9 million national livestock air emission study to aid in establishing Environmental Protection Agency standards for livestock and poultry operations. It is the largest such project ever undertaken.

The Purdue Agricultural Team Award includes $10,000 to be used for program support, a plaque for each team member and a permanent plaque displayed in the Agricultural Administration Building.

The open house at the Air Quality Laboratory is from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building, Room 102. The awards ceremony is at 2 p.m. in the Pfendler Hall auditorium and is open to the public. The event will include a 20-minute presentation on the team's work and a reception.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu

Sources: Randy Woodson, (765) 494-8391, woodson@purdue.edu

Albert Heber, (765) 494-1214, heber@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page


Note to Journalists: Reporters can attend both the laboratory open house and reception. For more information, contact Susan Steeves at (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu.


Related Web sites:
Purdue College of Agriculture

Purdue Agricultural Air Quality Laboratory


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