US research to focus on measuring air quality issues around pig farms

As part of the Improving Swine Production Air Quality Program, The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the National Pork Board (NPB) in the US have each provided $500,000 in funding for research into air quality in and around pig farms.

A recent study in the UK showed how the proportion of particulate matter from agriculture is increasing as that from traffic is being forcibly reduced by legislation. It found that in London, agriculture was responsible for almost twice as much PM2.5  pollution as the city’s own traffic. It also made up 38% of PM2.5 pollution in Leicester and 32% in Birmingham.

Much research has been undertaken on the health impacts of emissions from farms, pig or otherwise but the new research is motivated by the fact that there is ‘a lack of technology that can reliably and objectively measure the level of particles in the air so advancements can be made to remove them to improve air quality.’

Dr. Constance Gewa, FFAR senior program director said: ‘Poor air quality can have harmful effects on farm workers, their animals and the neighboring communities. In order to improve air quality on swine farms, the current amount of particulate matter on and around farms needs to be accurately and reliably measured. However, current particulate matter measurement methods are not specific for agriculture.’

A team led by Dr. Jiqin Ni, professor of Agriculture and Bioengineering at Purdue University will look to develop an innovative Particulate Matter Monitoring Station (PMMS) for exposure monitoring.

Dr Ni said: ‘Anything in the air, that’s my target. A swine farm and its surrounding area is a very complex environment. There are many commercially available technologies for particulate matter measurement. But none of them are designed for agriculture and livestock use.

‘This research will enable obtaining large amount of objective and reliable particulate matter concentrations and their distributions. These concentration data will help the producers understand the actual issues with particulate matter at swine production and take appropriate protection or mitigation measures.’

Meanwhile a team led by Dr. Xufei Yang, assistant professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University will work on developing a swine farm particulate matter measurement technology that is reliable, low cost and user-friendly.


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