Searching for an odor solution
by Jeff Lorimor, extension agricultural and biosystems engineer and Susan Anderson, communications specialist, Ag Information
Last summer Iowa producers tried new ways to reduce odor from their livestock operations. The Livestock Odor Demonstration Project began after the 1996 Iowa General Assembly allocated money to help find solutions to the problem of livestock odor. A second round of funding came in 1997.
A total of 58 on-farm demonstration projects got underway last summer. Additional applications were recently accepted from producers and another 25 projects will receive funding soon. Participants pay half the cost of the technology they employ.
Jeff Lorimor, a professor in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, coordinates the project.
"We're confident some of the new technologies being demonstrated will be useful in Iowa to reduce livestock odor problems," he said. "The producers who have applied for these grants are very interested in controlling livestock odors and want to know how new technologies can help them do that."
Participating livestock producers agree to try one of eight different technologies which researchers believe may reduce odor. The most popular choice of producers has been pit additives. But Lorimor said results so far have shown this option isn't as "sure fire"as some of the others.
The technology he's the highest on is placing a cover over manure lagoons. "The cost is fairly reasonable and we're showing covers will reduce odors significantly," Lorimor said. Options include a plastic or a bio-cover made of a natural product such as wheat straw or chopped cornstalks.
The idea behind a bio-cover is that the material would be blown onto the top of the lagoon or pit in the spring where it would float through the summer. In the late fall, the pit would be agitated and emptied, with the resulting product applied to cropland to provide nutrients for the next year's crop.
"Producers who have tried these covers this year are allowing themselves to be guinea pigs," Lorimor said. "We don't know yet if these covers will float through an entire season and if the cover will break down enough to be pumped out and land applied in the fall." Thanks to these demonstration projects, the answers to those questions should be available soon.
Other projects include lagoon aeration, an anaerobic digester similar to what's used for municipal sewage treatment, composting, solids separation, landscaping and soil injection of the manure.
ISU Extension field specialists have assisted by evaluating projects and planning field days. Lorimor said extension fact sheets and videos are being developed so the knowledge gained from the demonstrations can be shared with other producers interested in reducing livestock odors.
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Page last updated October 5, 2004
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