Iowa State University (ISU) will soon receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Research Initiative grant of nearly $480,000 to investigate odor dispersion from swine facilities.

ISU is the lead school in a three-state effort that also includes the University of Minnesota and the University of Nebraska.

In the project, agricultural engineers will measure odors downwind from hog buildings, and assess how these odors are impacted by weather patterns, seasons of the year, growth stage of the animals and building design and management.

Project Goals

The project has three goals. “One objective is to evaluate methods currently being used to measure odors downwind from swine facilities,” says Steve Hoff, ISU associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering.

“We will be studying three measurement methods to determine which one does the best job of accurately measuring odors at nearby residences or communities,” says Hoff.

The second and ultimate goal is to develop a computer model for use by pork producers and community planners.

“This tool will help when decisions are being made on the appropriateness of a particular site for a new production facility, when a facility expansion is being considered, or when a producer is considering implementing some type of odor reduction technology,” emphasizes the ISU project leader.

ISU has been working on the design of an odor dispersion computer model for several years. Funding has been provided by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

The third goal is to develop Web-based educational tools to provide information on how odors are dispersed and the effect of atmospheric conditions.

This new project builds on the existing six-state USDA odor study (see article on page 12), which collects and analyzes gas, odor and dust samples from inside swine barns.

However, the new project is different in that it collects and records data simultaneously from swine facilities and sites downwind.

The two-year effort starts in February with odor monitoring getting underway in May.