Swine Farm Emissions Program Funded

URBANA - A novel approach to testing promising technologies for the reduction of objectionable emissions from swine production facilities is being launched by the University of Illinois with support from the Illinois Attorney General's office.
calendar icon 16 June 2006
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"Although there are a relatively large number of products and technologies being promoted for emission reduction, few have been subjected to evaluation in the real world of swine production," explained Michael Ellis, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and leader of the project. "We will create a number of 'Discovery Farm' existing enterprises that will not only test these new technologies but demonstrate the best design and management practices to achieve emission reduction." Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the $251,000 grant during a Thursday (June 15) press conference on the U of I campus.

Joining Ellis in overseeing the project are Ted Funk and Yanhui Zhang, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Gary Schnitkey of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. For the past decade, Ellis and other U of I researchers have engaged in two major research initiatives involving emissions from swine production facilities.

"The issue of emissions of dust, odors, and gases from swine facilities is of critical importance to the state's swine industry," Ellis said. "Public complaints and concerns about proposed siting of new facilities and expansion of existing operations are focused largely on the potential impact of emissions. "These concerns continue to be the major limitation on long-term public acceptance and the prosperity of the industry."

According to the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the pork industry has invested a tremendous amount of resources in odor research. IPPA alone has invested nearly $80,000 in the last two years towards these efforts.

In late 2004, IPPA initiated the Illinois Pork Odor Research Advisory Committee comprised of pork producers, pork industry representatives, academia, and government officials. This group was a follow-up to the three-year efforts of the Illinois C-FAR (Council on Food and Agricultural Research) Strategic Research Initiative on Swine Odor and Waste Management.

This committee determined that pork producers needed independently tested and validated information to help them make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate technology for their farms. Technologies and practices were identified that needed further on-farm testing to evaluate their effectiveness and their economic viability. In working with Ellis and his team from the University of Illinois, a "Discovery Farm" was established at a finishing farm near McLean, Ill.

Using the "Discovery Farm" approach, Ellis noted, will allow producers to directly and rapidly apply information to their facilities. Additionally, appropriate technologies that can be retrofitted to existing production facilities will be examined. "We also plan to develop improved designs for emission reduction that could be incorporated into new facilities," Ellis said. The "Discovery Farm" project will consist of three phases. The first phase involves identification of the "Discovery Farms."

"These sites will be chosen after discussions with the staff at the Attorney General's office, the Illinois EPA, and the Illinois Pork Producers Associaton," Ellis explained. "Criteria for identifying appropriate sites will include facilities typical of those commonly used in Illinois that have multiple, similar buildings, and a willingness of the producer to be involved." Phase II involves installation of equipment at each site, and Phase III will be the testing of appropriate emission reduction technologies.

Among the technologies that Ellis said will be tested are biofilters; chimney stack exhausts; lagoon covers; the "Good Neighbor System," a three-part program that claims to dramatically reduce gas emissions; the ELM system which uses electric current to kill bacteria; and the BEI Biocurtain.

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