Extension News

Tri-State Team to Look at Air Quality in Beef Barns


AMES, Iowa — A tri-state team of researchers and university specialists will soon engage in a three-year study looking at gases emitted from mono-slope beef barns and how building management impacts the emissions.

The team is composed of researchers from the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Neb.; agricultural engineering specialists from South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, S.D.; and extension program specialists from Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa.

One purpose of the study is to gather baseline data for the levels of gas emissions from mono-slope beef barns for housing beef.  The study will involve a total of four mono-slope beef barns in South Dakota and Iowa.

“Currently, beef producers report estimated air emissions from their concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) based on data from open beef feedlots in the summer. These values may be too high for mono-slope beef barns. Data from this study will be useful in providing more accurate values for air emissions,” said Mindy Spiehs, animal scientist with USMARC.

The study will also evaluate two different manure-handling systems to determine which system emits lower levels of gases in the air. One barn system contains a manure pack which remains in the barn until the cattle are removed. The other barn system involves the weekly removal and storage of manure from around the bedded pack until it can be field applied.

“The study will provide information about which system is better for reducing gas emissions,” remarks Dick Nicolai, SDSU Agricultural engineer specialist and principal investigator for the study.

“A third, but important goal is to help beef producers learn how they can reduce the emissions from their mono-slope beef barns,” said Beth Doran, ISU Extension beef program specialist.

“Producers are trying different things to increase animal comfort, some of which may impact air quality,” adds Kris Kohl, ISU Extension agricultural engineer program specialist. The study will monitor the effects of season, diets and water consumption.  

Funding for this much-needed research comes from a grant sponsored by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and is one of 11 projects across the U.S. that addresses air quality issues. The projects will provide research-based information to develop effective mitigation strategies and best management practices to enhance air quality.

Inquiries about the tri-state air quality project may be directed to:
—Dick Nicolai, 605-688-5664, Dick.Nicolai@sdstate.edu
—Mindy Spiehs, 402-762-4271, Mindy.Spiehs@ARS.USDA.GOV
—Beth Doran, 712-737-4230, doranb@iastate.edu.

Contacts :

Beth Doran , Program Specialist, 712-737-4230, doranb@iastate.edu

Kris Kohl, Program Specialist, 712-732-5056, kkohl1@iastate.edu

Willy Klein, Extension Communications and External Relations, 515-294-0662, wklein@iastate.edu