Determination of gas emissions from manure sources in animal feeding operations

Final Report for GW13-006

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Utah State University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Scott B. Jones
Utah State University
Major Professor:
Expand All

Project Information

Summary:

Air pollutants from animal feeding operations (AFOs) cause public health and environmental problems, becoming critical issues for farm workers and populations living near livestock production sites. In addition to degrading the local air quality, AFOs emit greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. While best management practices (BMPs) play an important role in accomplishing emission mitigation, developing effective BMPs requires accurate on-farm determination of emissions that reflects region-specific climatic conditions and operation practices. This project proposed to develop a novel emission measurement system that can be used for establishment of site-specific BMPs and for evaluation and improvement of efficiency of currently available BMPs for livestock producers in the West. As a multi-component project, the project scope also included dissemination of project information and findings through several channels, including professional presentations, as well as education and outreach programs.

This final report focuses on project activities carried out during the years 2013 and 2014, including development of a chamber-based gas emission measurement system, laboratory and field emission measurements of targeted gases (i.e. ammonia – NH3, methane – CH4, and carbon dioxide – CO2), and public dissemination of project information and findings.

Introduction

The goal of this project is to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production in the West and minimize greenhouse gas emissions, thereby improving the sustainability of livestock production. The specific objectives of this proposal are to measure and develop understanding of animal manure-based gas emissions in development of site-specific BMPs and improve current practices.

Air pollutants from livestock operations cause public health and environmental problems, becoming critical issues for farm workers and populations living near livestock production sites. AFOs increase asthma in neighboring communities, and children living closer to an AFO have a greater risk of asthma symptoms. In addition to degrading the local-scale air quality, AFOs emit greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. While BMPs play a major role in accomplishing emission mitigation, developing effective BMPs requires accurate on-farm determination of emissions that reflects region-specific climatic conditions and operation practices. Semiarid regions in the Western U.S., where environment conditions are much drier than the East, require a gaseous emission measurement system. Establishing an accurate and reliable measurement system is critical for demonstrating the most effective BMPs in reducing environmental impacts of livestock production in the Western region. A novel emission measurement system was developed to be used as a tool to evaluate and improve efficiency of currently available BMPs for livestock producers in the West.

This project was a multi-component project consisting of (1) establishment of the novel measurement method for gas emission measurement from manure sources, (2) demonstration of the proposed measurement approach in development of site-specific BMPs and evaluation and improvement of current practices, and (3) dissemination of project information and findings through multi communication channels, including journals, professional presentations, as well as education and outreach programs.

Project Objectives:

To improve the sustainability of livestock production in the Western region, this project aimed to reduce the environmental impacts of beef and dairy operations, particularly by minimizing gas emissions from manure management practices. Specific objectives of the project are listed as follows:

Objective 1: To develop a gas emission measurement system that can be used as a tool for establishing site-specific BMPs to reduce gaseous emissions from AFOs and for evaluating efficiency of current BMPs for the producers in the West.

Objective 2: To measure gaseous emissions from AFOs in the Intermountain West and develop site-specific BMPs as well as improve current BMPs for the Western region.

Objective 3: To disseminate project information, collected emission data, and findings from the project to stakeholders, including livestock producers, agricultural professionals, local, state, and federal agencies to (a) address the adverse effects of gas emissions from AFOs on public health and the environment and (b) introduce respective BMPs for alleviating air quality issues.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dr. Scott B. Jones
  • Dr. Rhonda Miller

Research

Materials and methods:

Objective 1: A network of automated surface chambers with multiplexing system is commonly used to assess the temporal and spatial variability of gaseous emissions, particularly for continuous monitoring of CO2 exchange between soils and atmosphere. The multiplexing system typically facilitates automation of multiple chambers and management of chamber air flow, using a single gas analyzer. Our multiplexing system prototype was designed based on microcontroller technology, providing flexibility for future system expansion. A Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy gas analyzer (Gasmet DX-4030; Gasmet Technology Oy, Helsinki, Finland), capable of monitoring concentration of up to 15 preprogrammed gaseous components simultaneously, was used as the gas analyzer unit to measure concentration of the target gases. Our target gases include typical gaseous compounds and greenhouse gases emitted from manure, namely ammonia (NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sample air is drawn into the FTIR gas analyzer by a built-in diaphragm pump with a flow rate of two liters per minute. The FTIR gas analyzer is operated with a handheld computer (Trimble/TDS Recon) via Bluetooth protocol. Gas concentration results are stored in the handheld computer.

The most important features of our multiple chamber instrumentation are: (a) concurrent measurement capability of gaseous fluxes from multiple sources, (b) near real-time and accurate measurement of multiple gaseous components emitted from each source, (c) monitoring system for temperatures inside the chamber and emission source (e.g., soil, manure) for investigating the effects of temperature gradient on gas emissions, (d) monitoring system for relative humidity inside the chamber, (e) monitoring system for moisture content of emission source, (f) automated data collection, (g) integrated fail-safe setup for the solenoid valve manifold to prevent damage that may occur to the diaphragm pump, and (h) reliable operation and minimum maintenance. Additional detailed information on the development of multiplexing system for monitoring greenhouse and regulated gas emissions from manure sources are given in Sutitarnnontr et al. (2012).

Objective 2: The multiplexing system, which facilitates automation of multiple chambers and management of chamber air flow, was employed to assess the spatial variability of emissions from different manure types (i.e. dairy manure, beef manure, dairy compost, and beef compost) and manure management practices (i.e. different timings of incorporation: no incorporation or surface application, incorporation within 72 hours, incorporation within 24 hours, and immediate incorporation) with control dairy cattle manure at the USU Greenville Research Farm (1857 North 800 East, North Logan, UT). The experiments were conducted with complete randomized design with triplicate of each treatment. The dairy and beef manure samples were collected from the USU’s Caine Dairy Farm (4300 South Hwy 91, Wellsville, UT) and Animal Science Farm (3580 South Hwy 91, Wellsville, UT), respectively. Figure 1 illustrates gas emission measurements from manure management practices under field conditions in August and September 2013.

Objective 3: The extension and outreach portions were primarily led by Dr. Rhonda Miller, an agricultural environmental quality specialist of School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education, Utah State University. A variety of communication channels was utilized to disseminate project information to the producers and agricultural professionals. These channels included journals, oral and poster presentations at several professional meetings, and outreach programs planned throughout the project period to keep the public informed and engaged as the gas emission results were being generated.

Research results and discussion:

Objective 1: The automated multiplexing system for chamber-based monitoring of greenhouse and regulated gas emissions from manure sources was successfully developed to examine spatial and temporal variability in emissions associated with manure management practices. Evaluation of the measurement system performance was based on laboratory experiments using methane gas (CH4) to assess the accuracy and precision of the chamber system. A method to generate constant emission of methane gas was developed using the gradient-based technique as the reference gas fluxes. Three different emission rates were simulated to evaluate the accuracy of the system measurements. Statistical analyses, including ANOVA, were performed to determine the significance of gas flux estimates using the chamber-based estimate. A p-value = 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant. The ANOVA tests indicated no statistically significant differences among estimated fluxes from each of the 12 chambers evaluated, with the resulting p-values of 0.54, 0.58, and 0.80 for the measurements in three different emission rates. In addition, the multi-chamber system measurement in reference to the gas fluxes estimated by the gradient-based method showed excellent accuracy with the measurement biases less than 1%. Additional discussions on the measurement accuracy of the system are given in Sutitarnnontr et al. (2013).

Objective 2:  The measurement results of gaseous emissions (CO2, CH4, and NH3) from different types of manure, including dairy cattle farmyard manure, beef cattle farmyard manure, dairy compost, and beef compost are presented in Figures 2 to 5. The measurement results suggest that applying composted manures instead of farmyard manures as fertilizer would significantly reduce CO2, NH3, and CH4 emissions (i.e., three times less than applying dairy or beef cattle farmyard manure). Gaseous emissions from dairy farmyard manure (12,912 lbs CO2/ acre, 240 lbs NH3/ acre, and 1,424 lbs CH4/ acre) appear to be the highest among four manure types used in the measurement, while emissions from beef compost (3,847 lbs CO2/ acre, 0.7 lbs NH3/ acre, and 9.3 lbs CH4/ acre) are the lowest.

The measurement results of gaseous emissions from different timings of incorporation, including no incorporation or surface application, incorporation within 72 hours, incorporation within 24 hours, and immediate incorporation are presented in Figures 6 to 9. The measurement results suggest that NH3 and CH4 emissions can be significantly decreased (up to 100%) with the immediate incorporation applications. CO2 emissions can be decreased up to 40% and 18% with the incorporation within 24 hours and within 72 hours, respectively. NH3 emissions can be decreased up to 50% and 13% with the incorporation within 24 hours and within 72 hours, respectively. CH4 emissions can be decreased up to 67% and 39% with the incorporation within 24 hours and within 72 hours, respectively.

Objective 3: Led by Dr. Rhonda Miller, an agricultural environmental quality specialist, a demonstration of the prototype of the measurement system was performed to the producers and agricultural professionals at the Intermountain Irrigated Pasture Research Facility (1317 South 800 West, Lewiston, UT) on July 31, 2013 (Figure 10). The system demonstration was part of the field day tour of the Pasture Symposium 2013 organized by the Utah State University Extension Program. A total of approximately 100 participants, including livestock producers, local, state, and federal agencies, and relevant stakeholder groups attended the demonstration, providing valuable feedback and concerns on the gas emission regulations that are anticipated in the near future.

The project was also introduced to public at the first Science Unwrapped (SU) of Fall 2013 on September 6, 2013 at the Eccles Science Learning Center, Utah State University. The Science Unwrapped is USU’s monthly science outreach event, hosted by the College of Science, with participants from across the campus, including a mix of university students and faculty, people of all ages and many backgrounds from the community, and high school (and some junior high) students from the area. The major topic of the SU of Fall 2013 series was on the Science of Air Pollution covering the science and technology and the chase for evidence that has led to the current understanding of especially the PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less) and emissions from animal feeding operation problem in the Cache Valley, Utah. A poster (see the attachments) and measurement system demonstration were presented as an informational After-Activity to provide project information and answer questions on potential environmental impacts of degradation of air quality from livestock productions. In addition to the outreach activities described above, oral and poster presentations were made at several professional meetings as follows. All poster presentations in electronic format can be found in the attachments section of this final report.

(1) Sutitarnnontr. P, E. Hu, R. Miller, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Drying and Rewetting Effects on Gas Emissions from Dairy Manure in Semi-arid Regions. 2013 Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center National Conference “Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions”, Denver, CO, April 1 – 5, 2013. Available online at: http://www.extension.org/pages/67670/drying-and-rewetting-effects-on-gas-emissions-from-dairy-manure-in-semi-arid-regions#.UrOJRtJDtI4

(2) Miller. R, P. Sutitarnnontr, E. Hu, M. Tuller, J. Walworth, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Best Management Practices for Reducing Gas Emissions from Manure Application in Semi-Arid Regions. 2013 Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center National Conference “Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions”, Denver, CO, April 1 – 5, 2013. Available online at: http://www.extension.org/pages/67662/best-management-practices-for-reducing-gas-emissions-from-manure-application-in-semi-arid-regions#.UstQbdJDtI4

(3) Sutitarnnontr. P, E. Hu, M. Tuller, R. Miller, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Effectiveness of Manure Incorporation in Reducing Gas Emissions. 2013 Spring Runoff Conference “Water, People and Sustainability: Integrating Physical, Social and Ecological Dimensions”, Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT, April 9 – 10, 2013.

(4) Sutitarnnontr. P, E. Hu, R. Miller, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Measurement Accuracy of a Multiplexed Portable FTIR – Surface Chamber System for Estimating Gas Emissions. 2013 ASABE International Annual Meeting, Kansas City, MO, July 21 – 24, 2013.

(5) Sutitarnnontr. P, E. Hu, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Determination of Physical and Hydraulic Properties of Cattle Manure Using Soil Analysis Techniques. 2013 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL, November 3 – 6, 2013.

(6) Sutitarnnontr. P, M. Tuller, R. Miller, and S.B. Jones. 2014. Cumulative Evaporation from Manure Surface Application Using a Closed Dynamic Chamber Technique. 2014 Spring Runoff Conference, Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT, April 1 – 2, 2014.

(7) Sutitarnnontr. P, R. Miller, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2014. Simulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions after Land Application of Cattle Manure. 2014 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting, Long Beach, CA, November 2 – 5, 2014.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

The outreach programs, including presentations at professional meetings conducted during the project period to present the project information and promote awareness of impacts of gas emissions from manure sources in animal feeding operations, are described in the previous section of this report (Objective 3 of Results and Discussion/Milestones). In addition to these outreach programs, information on the development of the automated multiplexing system for monitoring of greenhouse and regulated gas emissions from manure sources was published in the technical library of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). The study of physical and thermal characteristics of dairy cattle manure for advancing prediction and modeling capabilities of gas emissions from cattle manure was published in Journal of Environmental Quality. The technical articles published during the project period are listed as follows:

Sutitarnnontr P., R. Miller, S. Bialkowski, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2012. A Multiplexing System for Monitoring Greenhouse and Regulated Gas Emissions from Manure Sources using a Portable FTIR Gas Analyzer. ASABE Paper No. 12-1337982. St. Joseph, Mich.: ASABE.

Sutitarnnontr. P, E. Hu, R. Miller, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2013. Measurement Accuracy of a Multiplexed Portable FTIR – Surface Chamber System for Estimating Gas Emissions. ASABE Paper No. 13-1620669. St. Joseph, Mich.: ASABE.

Sutitarnnontr, P., E. Hu, M. Tuller, and S.B. Jones. 2014. Physical and Thermal Characteristics of Dairy Cattle Manure. Journal of Environmental Quality, 43(6), 2115-2129.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The following are the measurable impacts and outcomes achieved from the project:

1. The project yielded a novel emission measurement system for assessment of gas emissions from AFOs. Application of the developed measurement technology is not limited to AFOs, targeted in this project, but will also be applicable for other agricultural management systems and natural ecosystems.

2. The project increased knowledge, created awareness, and developed skills of project participants on integrated sustainable livestock production, encouraging knowledge transfer among all stakeholders in the field.

Reduction of gas emissions from applying site-specific BMPs was demonstrated by comparing emission rates monitored among BMP treatments. At least 50% of the livestock producers participating in the education and outreach programs are expected to implement BMPs to reduce gas emissions from farming operations. With implementation of the project BMP findings, air pollution complaints and health risks related to air pollution are anticipated to be reduced. The current available BMPs were evaluated to be more efficient and practical in reduction of the environmental impacts as appropriate for the producers in the West. Overall, the project will improve air quality and sustain farmer worker health in AFO facilities where BMPs are implemented. In addition, this project prepares producers and small livestock farmers for compliance with existing and anticipated regulations related to gas emissions.

The successful implementation of the BMPs by the livestock producers through this project will not only help protect the environment, improve human health, and minimize greenhouse gas emissions in the West, but also serve as a model for the region, thereby improving the sustainability of animal feeding operations.

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

In this study, we provide more insightful information on commonly used manure management practices to reduce gas emissions from manure sources. As the gaseous emissions heavily depend on the temperature and moisture, further investigation on the season effects to the effectiveness of the BMPs will be required to improve the BMPs in reduction of the environmental impacts as appropriate for the producers in the West.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.