Mono-Slope Beef Barn Open Houses Feature Air Quality

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Mono-Slope Beef Barn Open Houses Feature Air Quality

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Results from this research will be critical additions to the livestock emission database which includes the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS), since beef facilities were not a part of the original study.  The livestock emission database is designed to help regulators make informed decisions about livestock facilities.   The ultimate goal is to help livestock producers manage emissions and provide clean air for the general public.    

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

In the past five years, a substantial number of beef producers in the multi-state area of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota have built deep-bedded mono-slope beef barns.  When asked why, most indicated these barns make it easier to comply with water quality regulations.  However, little is known about the gas emissions from these barns, their impact on air quality, or best management practices that may reduce emissions.    

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

To answer these questions, ISU Extension, South Dakota State University and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, NE engaged in a three-year grant, “Emissions Measurement and Comparison with Management Techniques for Beef Deep-Bedded Mono-Slope Facilities.” 

The grant features both research and Extension.  The research involves gathering baseline data for gases and dust emitted from two 100-foot wide barns in northwest Iowa and northeast South Dakota and evaluating two manure handling systems.   

The Extension component encompasses sharing the research and helping producers implement best management practices to reduce emissions.  Hence, mono-slope beef barn open houses were conducted on June 20, 2011 in Iowa and August 30, 2011 in South Dakota featuring management of the barns to improve cattle and environmental performance. 

Over 200 producers and agri-business staff from NW Iowa (Regions 1, 2, 5 and 6), Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota attended the Iowa open house; an additional 125, primarily from South Dakota and western Minnesota, participated at the South Dakota site.  Media specialists present in Iowa represented Feedlot magazine, Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman, Akron Hometowner and Northwest Iowa Review.    

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

Participants were asked to complete a short-term evaluation in the back of their program booklet.  A total of sixty-four (19.7%) evaluations were collected at the two sites.

As a result of the open houses:

  • 95% had a better understanding of the air quality regulations and why this research is needed
  • 88% learned where they could find financial resources to construct a mono-slope barn
  • 89% had improved knowledge about how gases and dust are measured

The respondents also indicated a willingness to change how they manage their beef operation in the following ways:

  • 86% felt they could manage some factors in their barn to increase animal comfort and reduce air emissions
  • 45% planned to change how they stockpile manure
  • 86% will take credit for the nutrients produced in the manure

The following comments indicate the open houses were timely and useful:

  • Lot of info, great tour – thanks
  • It is really great to see the research being done for producers and the EPA, thanks a million.
  • They (technical students) were really impressed with the barn and we spent a large part of yesterday’s class period discussing what they found interesting.  They were really impressed by how the air flowed through the barn, how calm and content the cattle were, and the pack.  It was a new concept for most of them. 

Desired Changes

Learning:  To develop stakeholder awareness of the need for air emissions research with deep-bedded mono-slope beef barns and to introduce the concept of best management practices to reduce emissions
Actions: To implement best management practices to improve the environment and reduce air emissions.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Beth Doran, ISU Extension and Outreach Beef Program Specialist, serving Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Ida, Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux and Woodbury counties.  Phone: 712-737-4230 or e-mail
Angie Rieck-Hinz, ISU Extension and Outreach Program Specialist, campus.  Phone: 515-294-9590 or e-mail
Kris Kohl, ISU Extension and Outreach Ag Engineer Program Specialist, serving Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Hancock, Emmet, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Winnebago and Woodbury counties.  Phone:  712-732-5056 or e-mail

Your Position

­­­­­__x___Field                                        __x___Campus                         _____Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­___x_ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­___x_Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

__x__ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Major Partners or Collaborators

Iowa State University Extension (Beth Doran, Angie Rieck-Hinz, Rachel Klein, and Kris Kohl); Environmental Management Unit of the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, NE (Mindy Spiehs, Bryan Woodbury, Todd Boman and Al Kruger); South Dakota State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (Dick Nicolai, Erin Cortus, Scott Cortus, and Steve Pohl); Ron and Clayton Christensen; Goodwin Heritage Cattle, Inc.

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

The open houses took place at the Ron and Clayton Christensen’s mono-slope barn at Royal, IA and Good Heritage Cattle, Inc. at Goodwin, SD. 

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)

Both multi-state and integrated

Funding Source

AFRI grant, Iowa State University Extension, South Dakota State University, USDA Meat Animal Research Center, and local sponsorship (Animal Medical Centers, Spencer; Clay County Cattlemen’s Association; Clay County Farm Bureau; Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers; Farm Credit Services of America, Emmetsburg; Spencer Ag Center, LLC; Spencer Chamber of Commerce, Ag Committee, Watertown Ag Chamber of Commerce, Glacial Lakes Ethanol, Coteau Hills Cattlemen, South Dakota Farm Bureau, Landmark Builders, Banner Associates, and Ag United for South Dakota).


Air Quality, Beef, Mono-Slope Barn, Gases, Particulate Matter


Page last updated: March 11, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,