Engineer reports dairy odor progress

Capital Press Staff Writer


BOISE - Idaho legislators listened to many people complain about odor from dairies and feedlots in lengthy hearings during the 2001 and 2002 legislative sessions, but there was always one question nobody could seem to answer.

How do you measure odor?

Ron Sheffield, waste management engineer with the University of Idaho, launched a study in early February to evaluate the intensity and duration of odor. Three methods will be tried in Idaho, and the resulting field values compared with those from certified European laboratories, he told the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee here Feb. 6.

The UI, Idaho state departments of agriculture and environmental quality Texas A&M and West Texas A&M are participating in the study with him, Sheffield said.

Sheffield will also coordinate odor surveys of livestock farms of various sizes, and their manure handling systems, building upon the measurement study. Odor and gas emission values will be reported for different types of farms in winter, spring, summer and fall. The odor emission, gas emission, odor intensity and acceptability will all be correlated, he said.

I expect to deliver a final report on this study next year. Im trying to determine odor acceptability, and put some numbers on potentially subjective things, Sheffield said.

In addition, construction will begin by May 2004 on two or more odor control demonstration projects. The projects will let Sheffield demonstrate anaerobic digestion and co-generation technologies, he told lawmakers.

As an educator and researcher, I have to be able to step back and ask myself if I've found the most effective, cheapest way to, in this case, control odor. Theres a lot of debate over whether anaerobic digestion technology is appropriate on all odor-problem dairies. Because of the debate, we need to look at a demonstration project in Idaho, he said.


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