Development of a Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix

Growth in the livestock and poultry industries in Nebraska faces hurdles is greatly influenced by county zoning and local decision-making. Variation in policies from one county to the next and in decisions made by county boards creates significant challenges for agricultural operations and for local communities looking to remain vibrant and grow.  Many were requesting that a common tool be developed for county officials to use that would bring greater consistency and objectivity to the evaluation of proposals to expand animal feeding operations.

What was done?

In 2015, the Nebraska Legislature passed legislation (LB106) that directed the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to convene a committee of experts to develop an assessment matrix for livestock development.  A 10-person advisory committee, including county officials, livestock industry representatives, and me [representing the University of Nebraska] was approved by Governor Ricketts later that year.  In keeping with directions outlined in Nebraska LB106, the committee:

  • Reviewed tools already developed by counties in Nebraska and by other states, mainly those used in Iowa and Wisconsin.
  • Developed a tool (Excel spreadsheet or pdf) that produces quantifiable results based upon scoring of objective criteria;
  • Made concerted efforts to assure that the tool is practical to use when applying for conditional-use permits or special exceptions and when county officials score these applications; and
  • Ensured that all criteria had definite point selections and provided a minimum threshold total score that is required to ‘pass’.

In 2016, the resulting Nebraska Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix (‘Livestock Matrix’) was posted for comments and approved for dissemination by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.   The Livestock Matrix was recently reviewed and updated by the advisory committee, and the current version is available for public access at http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/promotion/livestock_matrix/index.html.

What we have learned?

Development of the Livestock Matrix was a highly formative process.  Overall, the factors that consumed the vast majority of discussion and effort involved the following:

  • Need for simplicity. Strong sentiments were expressed that the Livestock Matrix should be easy to complete, with little or no need for assembling additional information or consultation.
  • Desire for transparency. Clarity was paramount, with parties on both sides expecting to see numbers and requirements specified up front, which excluded process-based approaches.
  • Questions of merit. Many ‘generally good ideas’ and recommendations were removed when benefits were not well understood or defined, or a practice was considered an industry norm.
  • Will to retain control. Perceived loss of control or potential for new regulation ended discussion of some ideas that otherwise had merit.

Voluntary tool:

LB106 specified that the matrix be “Designed to promote the growth and viability of animal agriculture in this state”, and as a result, the advisory committee was comprised of supporters of [responsible growth of] the livestock and poultry industries.  Support for local control runs deep in Nebraska, though, and one of the most significant hurdles arose early on due to amended language in the final bill, “…develop an assessment matrix which may be used by county officials to determine whether to approve or disapprove” applications.  Voluntary consideration and adoption of the Livestock Matrix at local levels totally changed the nature of the discussions, and made it very challenging to develop a single tool that would have widespread appeal and rate of adoption, virtually guaranteeing that varied policies and practices would still exist.  Despite this challenge, the matrix committee pushed through to develop a ‘template tool’, which has been adopted – either as is or as a template – by some counties.

County setbacks:

The next major hurdle faced was how to handle county setback distances.  With the Livestock Matrix being voluntary, it quickly became clear that county officials were not going to adopt a tool that limited their use of and control over setback distance requirements.  After mulling over options, the committee decided that satisfying the county’s setback requirement would be the primary criterion for obtaining 30 of the 75 points needed to receive a passing score.  To promote positive change, the committee developed sets of sliding-scale ‘base separation distances for odor’ using an approach that drew from the science-based Nebraska Odor Footprint Tool (NOFT).  The intent was that county officials would use these distances [preferably] in establishing county setbacks or as an alternative approach that could be accepted by a county.  Direct use of the NOFT and inherent NOFT concepts within the Livestock Matrix was greatly limited by concerns over the NOFT requiring additional work of applicants, not being sufficiently transparent, and not being applicable for all applicants (esp. open-lot cattle feeders).

The idea of using ‘transitional planning zones’ that add or deduct points based upon consideration of locations of all residents within 1.5 times the separation distance for odor is presented in the alternative approach (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Illustration of planning zones for assessing odor risk.
Figure 1. Illustration of planning zones for assessing odor risk.

The intent was to bring more information into decisions than just what is the distance to the closest neighbor relative to the county setback.  The zones are mainly presented for information purposes, as there was considerable hesitance to adopt a scoring system that was not considered sufficiently simple and transparent to merit replacing a set separation distance being the criterion.

Water quality / permits:

Committee members shared the view that a proposed expansion that would secure required environmental permits (via Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, NDEQ) and meet the county’s setback requirement, if any, should generally earn a passing score and not be exposed to local requirements that are often employed to delay and deter operations from expanding.  There was disagreement, however, on whether an applicant should need to complete the rest of the assessment if these two conditions were met.  This issue weighed the applicant’s time and effort completing the assessment against the potential that glaring concerns (point deductions) may arise in another area and that communities may not see the matrix as being comprehensive and credible.  The current matrix conveys an expectation that all main sections be scored, but has been streamlined to minimize required time and effort.

There were also differing views on whether the Livestock Matrix should highlight the various water quality protections that would be put in place or simply that NDEQ requirements would be satisfied.  While there was significant early interest by several committee members to promote and educate the public on stewardship practices required of permitted feeding operations, the desire to reinforce the value of determinations made by NDEQ and to keep the tool very practical to complete and assess carried in the end.  As a result, applicants must indicate that NDEQ approval has been or will be secured to obtain 30 of the 75 points needed to receive a passing score (Figure 2), while indication of the practices that will be implemented is encouraged, but does not affect the score received.

Figure 2. Section to be completed within the Livestock Matrix that addresses environmental protection plans and permits.
Figure 2. Section to be completed within the Livestock Matrix that addresses environmental protection plans and permits.

This section of the Livestock Matrix arose was discussed again as the committee considered those applicants who would receive a letter from NDEQ stating that a permit would not be required – primarily applicable to small animal feeding operations and operations that involved dry manure.  The challenge presented was, ‘Does having official approval to go forward without needing a permit offer the same protections and merit the same points as would exist if required plans were developed to secure permits?’  The issue became prominent when a broiler processing facility was approved for construction, which required constructing hundreds of new broiler (chicken) houses in the state, none of which would likely require an NDEQ permit.  The main concern was that such facilities could be approved without having nutrient management plans (and a few other desired plans) in place to limit potential nutrient loading of ground and surface waters from application of manure at rates exceeding crop needs.  The company associated with the current large poultry expansion took a proactive stance and internally requires all of its growers to have nutrient management plans in place and qualify for an NDEQ permit, resolving the immediate concerns, but not the longer-term issue with the Livestock Matrix.  The committee will continue to examine ways to better highlight and reinforce the importance of nutrient management within the Livestock Matrix without suggesting changes in NDEQ regulation.

Other environmental sections:

Six more sections address various environmental risks and protections, including:

  • Environmental and zoning compliance record
  • Water quality protection – livestock facilities
  • Odor and dust control for facilities
  • Manure application practices
  • Manure application separation
  • Additional assurance of environmental protection

Each of these sections was refined down to a list of items that the committee believed merited inclusion in determining the total score.

Non-environmental sections:

Additional sections address other topics such as:

  • Traffic
  • Locations of the authorized representative and the site manager relative to the facility
  • Communication with the community
  • Economic impact
  • Landscaping and aesthetics

Each of these areas was well-understood to influence acceptance by the community.  Probably the biggest challenge for the committee was assigning appropriate section scores and total passing scores to value the importance of these areas without suggesting that an environmentally risky application could achieve a passing score through strong scores in these other areas.

Impacts and Implications

In developing the Nebraska Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix, the committee made available a well-critiqued tool for voluntary consideration by county officials.  Overall, the Livestock Matrix strikes a sometimes uncomfortable balance between being comprehensive and scientifically correct and being transparent and easy to use.  Although the Livestock Matrix will likely fall short of the original goal of achieving consistency and uniformity in Nebraska’s county zoning policies and practices, county officials are considering the matrix as a template zoning tool or as a gauge for evaluating and adjusting current policy.

 Next Steps

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is continuing to promote adoption of the Nebraska Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix, especially to counties looking to be officially designated as “Livestock Friendly”.  The matrix will be evaluated again in 1-2 years.

Authors

Richard R. (Rick) Stowell, Extension Specialist – Animal Environment, Rick.Stowell@unl.edu

Additional Information

For more information on the Nebraska Odor Footprint Tool, visit https://water.unl.edu/manure/odor-footprint-tool.

Acknowledgements

The other members serving  on the committee included: John Csukker; Elizabeth Doerr, Leon Kolbet, Dean Krueger, Mark McHargue, Jennifer Myers, Sarah Pillen, Andrew Scholting, Steve Sill.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Aeration for Elimination of Manure Odor and Manure Runoff: What One Professional Engineer Has Learned in the Past 12 Years

Aerobic treatment has potential to be more practical for any size operation, reduce odors, reduce risk of runoff by facilitating application to growing crops, and reduce energy use when distributing manure nutrients.

Farm-based aeration, created through an upward/outward surface flow, was first introduced in the 1970’s and brought partial success.  With significant performance issues, challenges with struvite within manure recycling pipes/pumps, and the growing trend to store manure within pits under barns, further research with manure aeration was largely abandoned.  Very little research has been done on aerobic treatment within manure storage systems since traditional aeration using air blowers has been considered too expensive. Previous research sought to mimic traditional domestic wastewater treatment systems which also purposely perform denitrification.  Not always a goal for farm operations in years past, retaining Nitrogen within wastes used as fertilizer is now usually a goal.  Thus, past aerobic treatment systems were not designed to fully benefit today’s modern farms.

In 2006, hog producers were introduced to an updated version of equipment providing Widespreading Induced Surface Exchange (WISE) aeration, specifically for reducing hog manure odor while irrigating lagoon effluent.  The results became a “wonder” for the site’s CAFO permit engineer. Documentation showed that significant aeration was occurring at a rate much higher than could occur with the energy input used by traditional bubble blowers.  This indicated that aeration of manure ponds and lagoons may not be too expensive after all.  More questions led to a USDA NRCS-supported study, which revealed much more information and brought out more questions. The final report of that study is available at http://pondlift.com/more-info/, along with other information on the technologies described.

 The NRCS-funded study revealed the basis for previous performance failures, while it also showed the basis for getting positive aeration performance at liquid manure storage sites:  Ultimately, this information showed that large reductions of manure odor can be obtained while offering a new paradigm for eliminating most potential manure runoff through WISE aeration as the first step.

The paradigm change summary:

  1. Aeration provides aerobic bacteria based manure decomposition while in storage.
  2. Aerobic bacteria produce only carbon dioxide, which is considered carbon neutral when converting manure’s nutrients to fertilizer, reduced greenhouse gas (Aerobic gives off no other greenhouse gasses such as methane or oxides, and few odors)
  3. “No odor” allows direct distribution of decomposed manure nutrients onto crops during growing season. (Distribution is done during growing season, using automated irrigation equipment).
  4. Low-cost automated manure distribution reduces farm operation costs, but also allows the nutrients to be distributed to equal acres during a wider application time frame (not limited to when crop land is barren in spring or before fall freezeup.)
  5. A wider application time frame allows multiple applications at smaller doses onto growing crops. Depending on nutrient application goals and equipment, irrigation rates can be as little as 1/8th inch of water, multiple times through the year, instead of one large dose.
  6. Irrigation equipment is likely not operating when potential runoff conditions are pending, especially when the entire spring/summer/fall periods are available for distribution.
  7. When nutrients are applied onto growing crops at low dosage rates during periods when irrigation is desired, very little potential for runoff is present. Only a small portion of 1/8” of water onto a crop canopy rarely reaches the ground. The nutrient rich water quickly binds with the dry surface soil when it does get past the crop canopy during summer application.
  8. Current manure distribution distribution requires that most farmers fight to get raw manure distributed onto cropland before spring planting (which is often a wet time of year), OR after crops are harvested and bales removed. Although farmers and regulators wish that all manure handling is performed before freezeup, it is not the case: It happens more than anyone admits.  Manure application to frozen ground is an understated and unquantified manure runoff cause.  Such runoff can be eliminated by the new paradigm of application onto growing crops.

Further, the “side use” of treated effluent has significant benefit compared to raw manure.  Aerobic Bacteria-Laden Effluent (ABLE water) is extremely proficient in its use within flume systems and for automatic flushing of alleys. The aerobic bacteria within the treated water is “hungry” to go to work, to pick up fresh food as it passes over the floor/alley, on its way back to the storage pond.

The layman’s explanation is similar to urban water delivery pipes and wastewater pipes buried within city streets:

  1. Historically, dairy operators quickly learned that fresh well water will create a “slime” on surfaces, causing extremely slippery floors and alleys which injure cows. To eliminate much of the slipperiness, they stopped using fresh water and instead used raw manure from the pond.  In many cases, they would add water to the pond, when manure got too thick and again caused slippery areas.
  2. Unseen by most people are the 2 pipe systems under streets carrying our water and sewer. Factually, one pipe has slime, and the other pipe is amazingly clean: While acknowledging the newspaper notices that fire hydrants are going to be “flushed” several times/year, most don’t realize the purpose for doing so is to flush the slime from our drinking water pipes! The slime is not toxic to humans due to chlorination, but its buildup reduces pipe capacity, and its color is unpleasant to see in drinking water.  In the case of unaerated fresh water used at farms, it tends to grow the slime that dairymen simply can’t afford on their alleys/floors.
  3. Meanwhile, most people won’t look into a sewer manhole to note how “clean as a dinner plate” it looks! Sewerage pipes are designed for high capacity peak flow but normally runn at very low levels. This allows tremendous aeration activity within the system as water tumbles at manholes and as flows change direction.  Thus, the aeration, food, and bacteria within properly operating sewer systems have very little odor, with the bacteria laden effluent continuously cleaning the sewer pipe. Sewer Pipes indeed look “brand new” even after operating for decades!   Those who effectively aerate their manure pond water so they have high aerobic populations within the effluent, and use that effluent for flushing alleys and flumes are quite happy with the resultant cleaning of the alleys, floors, and flumes.

Lastly, ABLE water likely has traits of “compost tea”:  Compost Tea is made by steeping in water, a quantity of completed compost, rich with soluble nutrients, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and microarthropods.  After removing the steeped compost solids, the remaining effluent is rich with those items recognized by many as necessary for building the soil and most effective for plant growth.   The tea is to be used quite soon after it is created, but aeration can lengthen the storage period.  Within aerobically treated manure ponds, because aeration is being performed continuously, compost tea-like benefits are anticipated to be included to crops having the WISE treated effluent application.

What did we do?

A basic hypothesis for WISE technology was developed in 2014 to explain why aeration levels are significantly higher compared to bubble blower technology.  This hypothesis explains how/why results are being obtained and allows purposeful thought on how to maximize performance.

Meanwhile, engineering solutions were developed for the two main issues of equipment available at the time: 1) Previous equipment was heavy and required boom trucks/cranes to install/remove it for servicing (250 to 900 lb.), and 2) The propeller orientation/shape would inherently draw in stringy material that wraps on the propeller shaft, which then requires removal (see problem 1).  New equipment was designed that weighs less than 120 lb. and is easily installed by hand (Figure 1).

Figure 1. One of two WISE technology models, this for open ponds (44” wide). The other model fits through a doorway to be installed in the manure storage pits of deep-pit hog barns.
Figure 1. One of two WISE technology models, this for open ponds (44” wide). The other model fits through a doorway to be installed in the manure storage pits of deep-pit hog barns.

What have we learned?

After years of testing the new design, the equipment proved to be able to operate without inviting stringy material to wrap on the propeller and to be easy to handle by hand.  The design was declared an engineering success and marketing began.

In addition, nitrogen retention rates for aerobic manure treatment are much higher than published, most likely due to the traditional domestic wastewater treatment process assumptions of the 1970’s and the use of partial aeration, due to high costs of bubble blowers, instead of continuous aeration used within WISE aeration activity.

Prior to the 2018 North American Manure Expo, data was collected at 3 different farms in the Brooking SD area, each farm having a different brand/style of providing aeration. Due to the uncontrolled variables, results varied within each farm and also varied from the other farms.  Although no clear specific results were determined, one specific trend was that installing equipment at a higher operational rate (1 device/50 animal units) than the study used (1 device/70animal units), offered higher nitrogen retention than can be expected from the NRCS funded study, which is higher than currently published aeration rates.   This leads me to believe that there may be some misunderstood biological process for retaining nitrogen within aerobically treated effluent using WISE aeration.  It appears there are some things unequivocally misunderstood about aerobic manure treatment and the nutrients retained, most likely also associated with the items commonly identified/targeted with Compost Tea discussions.   The potential for changing the current manure handling paradigm to one where odor is not an issue, and application of manure nutrients onto growing crops which might also reduce manure runoff   warrants further study.

The presentation will also touch on some basic misunderstandings about ammonia/ammonium, provide “do’s” and “don’ts” of installations and/or studies, and identify additional subjects for study.

What are the next steps?

  • Associated technology is being developed to perform foliar application. If farmers can’t handle manure differently, why would they do additional work, just to distribute it the same way they do now?  The presentation will include basic information for a Self-Propelled Extremely Wide Portable Linear Irrigator (SPEWPLI).  This equipment is projected to be able to irrigate/fertigate a full 160-acre field in 5 passes, and then be quickly moved to the next field.  It is anticipated that manure pumpers would use existing equipment to deliver liquid manure to fields and use the SPEWPLI equipment as an alternative to conventional drag-hose injection.  Foliar feeding has proven beneficial, applying nutrients directly onto growing crops (in canopy) when they best increase yields. By changing the distribution window to summertime, farmers don’t need to apply only in spring or in fall, or leave fields un-planted so manure can be applied in the summer.

While most farmers will not spend money to buy technology which only rids manure of odor while they continue to handle it as they have in the past, since there is very little economic return for only controlling odor, there are other aspects of WISE aeration technology to provide economic return, which then provides odor relief as a “free” benefit.

  • More information is needed on the benefits of distributing manure nutrients directly to growing crops and on the economics of low-cost, automated systems.
  • More information is needed in maximizing aeration for the energy used by way of this technology.
  • More information is needed in how nitrogen can possibly be tied up and reserved by the other bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and microarthropods within compost tea-like effluent.

A listing of such subject study items, likely to be doctorate dissertation level projects, will be included in the presentation.

Because our brand resolves issues that other equipment has, we will make it available for academic study at field sites and for others to use for additional research in the use of WISE aeration technology.

Author

John Ries, PE, Pond Lift, Elk Point, SD, johnries@pondlift.com

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Development of Short Educational Videos for CAFO Related Topics

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are encountering more resistance. There are cases where citizens file suit to stop application of a new or expansion of animal production facility; others petition the county commissioners to stop the facility via zoning or health ordinances. When extension personnel were asked about CAFOs, it became apparent that some user-friendly and brief information pieces are needed, especially those that are based in fact and able to capture the audience’s attention and address their emotions. Well-managed CAFOs tend to have less nutrient management and odor nuisance issues, and when needed, there are options to mitigate odor and improve nutrient management.  Many CAFOs have been shown to benefit the local economy, which is critical to rural communities. The videos are intended to be short so that the user can stay interested and choose next topics of interests. The goal is to capture users’ attention and provide them with essential facts rather than trying to push information to them.

What did we do?

The University of Missouri Extension team have created a series of short whiteboard videos that target concerned local citizens and county commissioners seeking information about the impacts of CAFOs on environment, economy, antibiotics, and health. Scripts were developed by the faculty based on facts and peer-reviewed publications. Artists were hired to develop the whiteboard videos. A total of five videos were developed in the first production round and posted onto a website. A website and YouTube Channel were created to present the videos.

What we have learned?

The team created the videos and showed to classes and university staff, to collect feedback and ideas to improve the videos. Iteration of the scrips, communication with the artists, panel review for clarity and improvement, are critical to the video production.

Implications of the project or research

General public who want to learn more about CAFOs or concerned about the potential impacts of newer, intensive animal farms are able to access research based information to answer their questions. Between 7/10/2018 and 3/1/19 the videos have a total of 963 views, CAFO Environmental Impact is the most viewed at 336.

What should people remember as take-home messages from your presentation?

More scientific based information and application of social media might be needed to convey more information, and stimulate non-agricultural and younger audiences to learn more about animal production facts.

Future plans

Based on the feedback and discussion, create more videos to promote science-based information pieces, to reach a broad audience.

Authors

Lim, Teng (Associate Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer, Agricultural Systems Management, University of Missouri, limt@missouri.edu)

Massey, Ray; Bromfield, Cory; and Shannon, Marcia; University of Missouri

Additional information

Please visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX-Y1Fuyi_l7SIs3y6u9Yhw to view the videos and http://agebb.missouri.edu/commag/cafo/ to find more information.

Acknowledgements

Four of the videos were developed by small grants provided by the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence.

 

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Seasonal and Spatial Variations in Aerial Ammonia Concentrations in Deep Pit Beef Cattle Barns

There are known benefits and challenges to finishing beef cattle under roof. The accumulated manure is typically stored in either a bedded pack (mixture of bedding and manure) or in a deep pit below a slatted floor.  Previous research measured particulate matter, ammonia and other gases in bedded pack barn systems. Deep pit manure storages are expected to have different aerial nutrient losses and manure value compared to solid manure storage and handling. Few studies have looked at concentrations at animal level or aerial/temperature distributions in the animal zone. There is little to no documentation of the air quality impacts of long-term deep pit manure storage in naturally ventilated finishing cattle barns. The objective of this work is to describe the seasonal and spatial variations in aerial ammonia concentrations in deep pit beef cattle barns.

What Did We Do?

We measured ammonia concentrations among four pens in three beef cattle barns oriented east and west with deep pit manure storage during summer and fall conditions in Minnesota. We measured the concentration below the slatted floor (above the manure surface), 4-6 inches above the floor (floor level) and 4 ft above the floor (nose level). While collecting samples from within a pen, we also collected samples from the north and south wall openings surrounding the pen. We collected air and surface temperatures, air speed at cow level, and surface manure samples to supplement the concentration data. We collected measurements three times between 09:00 and 17:00 on sampling days. The cattle (if present) remained in the pen during measurement collection.

All farms had 12 ft deep pits below slatted floors, and pen stocking densities of 22 ft2 per head at capacity. Barn F finished beef cattle breeds under a monoslope roof, in four pens, with feed alleys on north and south side of pens. Two pens shared a common deep pit, and the farm pumped manure from the deep pits 1 week prior to the fall sampling period. Two pens were empty and the other two pens partially filled with cattle during the fall sampling period. Barn H finished dairy steers under a gable roof in a double-wide barn, in twelve pens over a deep pit and two pens with bedded packs, with a feed alley down the center of the barn. Four (east end) and eight (west end) pens shared common deep pits; the bedded pack pens were in the middle of the barn. The farm moved approximately 1 foot of manure from the east end pit to the west end pit one week prior to fall sampling period. Barn R finished dairy steers under a gable roof with four pens and a feed alley on the north side of the pens. All pens shared a common deep pit. Two pens were empty of cattle during the summer and fall sampling periods.

What Have We Learned?

The ammonia concentration levels differed based on the location in the pen area (Figures 1 and 2). As expected, the ammonia concentrations in the pit headspace above the manure surface was the greatest, and at times more than 10x the concentration at floor and nose level. The higher concentration levels measured at Barn F coincided with higher manure nitrogen levels (Total N and Ammonium-N) (Figure 2). Based on July and September measurements, higher ammonia concentration levels also coincided with higher ambient temperatures (Figure 1). The presence and size of cattle in the pens we measured did not strongly influence ammonia concentrations at any measurement height within a barn on sampling days.

Ammonia concentration is variable between barns, and within barns. However, at animal and worker level, average concentrations for the sampling periods were less than 10 ppm during the summer and fall periods. Higher gas levels can develop in the confined space below the slatted floor.

Future Plans

The air exchange between the deep pit headspace and room volume relates these two areas, but is challenging to measure. We are looking at indirect air exchange estimations using ammonia and other gas concentration measurements collected to quantify the amount of air movement through the slatted floor related to environmental conditions. Additional gas and environmental data collected will enhance our understanding of deep pit beef cattle barn environments.

Authors

Erin Cortus, Assistant Professor and Extension Engineer, University of Minnesota

ecortus@umn.edu

Brian Hetchler, Research Technician, University of Minnesota; Mindy Spiehs, Research Scientist, USDA-ARS; Warren Rusche, Extension Associate, South Dakota State University

Additional Information

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer

Acknowledgements

The research was supported through USDA NIFA Award No. 2015-67020-23453. We appreciate the producers’ cooperation for on-farm data collection. Thank you to S. Niraula and C. Modderman for assisting with measurements.

Figure 1. Average ammonia concentration levels in the animal and worker zone for three deep pit beef cattle barns during spring and fall sampling days, and the corresponding airspeed and temperature at cow nose level.
Figure 1. Average ammonia concentration levels in the animal and worker zone for three deep pit beef cattle barns during spring and fall sampling days, and the corresponding airspeed and temperature at cow nose level.
Figure 2. Average ammonia concentration levels at nose and manure surface levels for three deep pit beef cattle barns during spring and fall sampling days, and the corresponding surface* manure characteristics. (* Barn F 14-Sep-18 manure sample was an agitated sample collected during manure removal).
Figure 2. Average ammonia concentration levels at nose and manure surface levels for three deep pit beef cattle barns during spring and fall sampling days, and the corresponding surface* manure characteristics. (* Barn F 14-Sep-18 manure sample was an agitated sample collected during manure removal).

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

The Use of USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants to Advance Air Quality Improvements

USDA-NRCS has nearly fifteen years of Conservation Innovation Grant project experience, and several of these projects have provided a means to learn more about various techniques for addressing air emissions from animal agriculture.  The overall goal of the Conservation Innovation Grant program is to provide an avenue for the on-farm demonstration of tools and technologies that have shown promise in a research setting and to further determine the parameters that may enable these promising tools and technologies to be implemented on-farm through USDA-NRCS conservation programs.

What Did We Do?

Several queries for both National Competition and State Competition projects in the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Project Search Tool (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ciglanding/national/programs/financial/cig/cigsearch/) were conducted using the General Text Search feature for keywords such as “air”, “ammonia”, “animal”, “beef”, “carbon”, “dairy”, “digester”, “digestion”, “livestock”, “manure”, “poultry”, and “swine” in order to try and capture all of the animal air quality-related Conservation Innovation Grant projects.  This approach obviously identified many projects that might be related to one or more of the search words, but were not directly related to animal air quality. Further manual review of the identified projects was conducted to identify those that specifically had some association with animal air quality.

What Have We Learned?

Out of nearly 1,300 total Conservation Innovation Grant projects, just under 50 were identified as having a direct relevance to animal air quality in some way.  These projects represent a USDA-NRCS investment of just under $20 million. Because each project required at least a 50% match by the grantee, the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant program has represented a total investment of approximately $40 million over the past 15 years in demonstrating tools and technologies for addressing air emissions from animal agriculture.

The technologies that have been attempted to be demonstrated in the animal air quality-related Conservation Innovation Grant projects have included various feed management strategies, approaches for reducing emissions from animal pens and housing, and an approach to mortality management.  However, the vast majority of animal air quality-related Conservation Innovation Grant projects have focused on air emissions from manure management – primarily looking at anaerobic digestion technologies – and land application of manure. Two projects also developed and enhanced an online tool for assessing livestock and poultry operations for opportunities to address various air emissions.

Future Plans

The 2018 Farm Bill re-authorized the Conservation Innovation Grant Program through 2023 at $25 million per year and allows for on-farm conservation innovation trials.  It is anticipated that additional air quality projects will be funded under the current Farm Bill authorization.

Authors

Greg Zwicke, Air Quality Engineer, USDA-NRCS National Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Technology Development Team

greg.zwicke@ftc.usda.gov

Additional Information

More information about the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program is available on the Conservation Innovation Grants website (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/), including application information and materials, resources for grantees, success stories, and a project search tool.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Three Options for Cleaning Barn Exhaust Air

Reducing aerial emissions and improving air quality is a common goal in the livestock and poultry industries. This webinar presents three approaches to reducing aerial emissions from barn exhaust air, using combinations of wet scrubbing, electrostatic precipitation, filtration and enhanced dispersion. This presentation was originally broadcast on March 29, 2019. More… Continue reading “Three Options for Cleaning Barn Exhaust Air”

USDA-NRCS and the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) for Livestock and Poultry Operations

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Purpose

The National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) was developed as a first-of-its-kind tool to help producers and their advisors assess the impact of management on air emissions from livestock and poultry operations and identify areas for potential improvement related to those air emissions.

What did we do?

In 2007, several land-grant universities, with leadership from Michigan State University, began developing NAQSAT under a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). The initial tool included beef, dairy, swine, and poultry operations. A subsequent CIG project, with leadership from Colorado State University, made several enhancements to the tool, including adding horses to the species list. In 2015, USDA-NRCS officially adopted NAQSAT as an approved tool for evaluating air quality resource concerns at livestock and poultry operations. USDA-NRCS also contracted with Florida A&M University in 2015 to provide several regional training workshops on NAQSAT to NRCS employees. Six training workshops have been completed to date (Raleigh, NC; Modesto, CA; Elizabethtown, PA; Lincoln, NE; Richmond, VA; and Yakima, WA) with assistance from multiple NAQSAT development partners. Additionally, USDA-NRCS revised its comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) policy in October 2015 to make the evaluation of air quality resource concerns mandatory as part of CNMP development.

Snippet from website of the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool

Group photo of team in field

Zwicke in class lecturing

Zwicke and group in animal housing facility

What have we learned?

NAQSAT has proven to be a useful tool for bench-marking the air emissions impacts of current management on confinement-based livestock and poultry operations. In the training sessions, students have been able to complete NAQSAT runs on-site with the producer or producer representative via tablet or smartphone technologies. Further classroom discussion has helped to better understand the questions and answers and how the NAQSAT results can feed into the USDA-NRCS conservation planning process. Several needed enhancements and upgrades to the tool have been identified in order to more closely align the output of the tool to USDA-NRCS conservation planning needs. NAQSAT has also proven to be useful for evaluating the air quality resource concern status of an operation in relation to the CNMP development process.

Future Plans

It is anticipated that the identified needed enhancements and upgrades will be completed as funding for further NAQSAT development becomes available. Additionally, as use of NAQSAT by USDA-NRCS and our conservation planning and CNMP development partners expands, additional training and experience-building opportunities will be needed. The NAQSAT development team has great geographic coverage to assist in these additional opportunities.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Greg Zwicke, Air Quality Engineer – Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Team, USDA-NRCS

Corresponding author email

greg.zwicke@ftc.usda.gov

Other authors

Greg Johnson, Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Team Leader, USDA-NRCS; Jeff Porter, Animal Nutrient and Manure Management Team Leader, USDA-NRCS; Sandy Means, Agricultural Engineer – Animal Nutrient and Manure Management Team, USDA-NRCS

Additional information

naqsat.tamu.edu

https://lpelc.org/naqsat-for-swine-and-poultry

https://lpelc.org/naqsat-for-beef-and-dairy/

Acknowledgements

C.E. Meadows Endowment, Michigan State University

Colorado Livestock Association

Colorado State University

Florida A&M University

Iowa Turkey Federation

Iowa Pork Producers

Iowa Pork Industry Center

Iowa State University

Iowa State University Experiment Station

Kansas State University

Michigan Milk Producers Association

Michigan Pork Producers Association

Michigan State University

Michigan State University Extension

National Pork Board

Nebraska Environmental Trust

Oregon State University

Penn State University

Purdue University

Texas A&M University

University of California, Davis

University of Georgia

University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science

University of Idaho

University of Maryland

University of Maryland Department of Animal and Avian Sciences

University of Minnesota

University of Missouri

University of Nebraska

USDA-ARS

Virginia Tech University

Washington State University

Western United Dairymen

Whatcom County (WA) Conservation District

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Scientific Evidence Indicates that Reducing NOx Emissions is the Most Effective Strategy to Reduce Concentrations of Ammonium Nitrate, a Significant Contributor to PM2.5 Concentrations in California’s San Joaquin Valley

Recently there has been increased interest in regulating ammonia emissions to reduce PM2.5 (“fine” particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers)  concentrations.  However, understanding the quantity of and interactions between ammonia and nitrogen oxide (NOx) is necessary in determining whether controlling ammonia is an effective strategy for reducing PM2.5 in a particular region.  Research from the California Regional Particulate Air Quality Study and other studies has demonstrated the relative abundance of ammonia in comparison to the limited concentrations of the other key precursor, nitric acid formed by NOx emissions.  As a result, NOx acts as the primary limiting precursor for the formation of secondary ammonium nitrate in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV).  Modeling based on data from these studies also found that controlling NOx was the most effective strategy to reduce ammonium nitrate particulate in the SJV and controlling ammonia had little effect on PM2.5 concentrations. 

In summary and as explained in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District 2012 PM2.5 Plan, the best scientific information available indicates that controlling NOx emissions is the most effective strategy to reduce secondary ammonium nitrate in the SJV.  While it has been demonstrated that controlling ammonia will not significantly reduce PM2.5 concentrations in the SJV, the District has adopted stringent regulations that have significantly reduced ammonia emissions.

Purpose

The San Joaquin Valley is primarily a rural region with large areas dedicated to agriculture. Recently there has been increased interest in regulating ammonia emissions from agricultural operations and other sources as a means to reduce PM2.5 concentrations. However, understanding the quantity and interactions between ammonia and NOx are necessary in determining whether controlling ammonia emissions is an effective strategy for reducing secondary PM2.5 formation in a particular geographic region.

average of peak day pm2.5 chemical composition

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) periodically reviews and establishes health-based air quality standards (often referred to as National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or NAAQS) for ozone, particulate matter (PM), and other pollutants. Although the air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley has been steadily improving, the region is currently classified as “serious” non-attainment for the 1997 and 2006 federal ambient air quality standards for PM2.5. The periods for which measured PM2.5 concentrations drive nonattainment of these standards occur primarily in the winter months and air quality research in the San Joaquin Valley has identified ammonium nitrate as the predominant contributor to secondary PM2.5 in the region. Ammonium nitrate particulate is formed through chemical reactions between ammonia in the air and NOx emissions produced by mobile and stationary combustion sources. As shown in Figure 1 above, ammonium nitrate is commonly the largest contributor to PM2.5 mass during the winter in the San Joaquin Valley.

What did we do?

modeled ammonium nitrate response to NH3 vs NOxAtmospheric modeling has demonstrated that controlling NOx is the most effective strategy to reduce ammonium nitrate concentrations in the San Joaquin Valley and controlling ammonia has little effect on these concentrations. The California Air Resources Board conducted multiple modeling runs to simulate the formation of PM2.5 in the San Joaquin Valley and compare the effect of reducing various pollutants on PM2.5 concentrations. As seen in Figure 2, U.S. EPA’s Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) indicated that reducing NOx by 50% reduced nitrate concentrations by 30% to 50% reductions, while reducing ammonia by 50% resulted in less than 5% reductions in nitrate concentrations. Similarly, the UCD/CIT photochemical transport model indicated that for the conditions on January 4-6, 1996 in the San Joaquin Valley, controlling NOx emissions is far more effective for reducing nitrate concentrations than controlling ammonia.

What have we learned?

abundance of NH3 in San Joaquin ValleyAmmonium nitrate particulate is limited by NOx in the San Joaquin Valley

Extensive research conducted through the California Regional Particulate Air Quality Study (CRPAQS) and other studies has demonstrated the relative abundance of ammonia in comparison to the limited concentrations of the other key precursor, nitric acid formed by NOx emissions in the San Joaquin Valley. As a result, NOx (via nitric acid) acts as the primary limiting precursor for the formation of secondary ammonium nitrate. (See Figures 3 and 4)

Future Plans

NOx control reduces ammonium nitrate more efficientlyAs explained in detail in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District 2012 PM2.5 Plan, the best scientific information available indicates that controlling NOx emissions is the most effective strategy to reduce secondary ammonium nitrate in the San Joaquin Valley. While ammonia has been demonstrated to not significantly contribute to PM2.5 concentrations in the San Joaquin Valley, the District has developed control strategies, via stringent regulations (Confined Animal Facilities – Rule 4570, Organic Material Composting – Rule 4566, Biosolids, Animal Manure, and Poultry Litter Operations – Rule 4565), that have resulted in significant reductions in ammonia emissions.

Authors

Errol Villegas, Program Manager, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District errol.villegas@valleyair.org

Ramon Norman, Air Quality Engineer, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Additional information

California Air Resources Board Technical Symposium: Scientific Basis of Air Quality Modeling for the San Joaquin Valley 2012 PM2.5 Plan (April 27, 2012). Fresno, CA

Magliano, K. L. & Kaduwela, A. P. (2012) California Air Resources Board Technical Symposium: Technical Basis of the 2012 San Joaquin Valley PM2.5 Plan Modeling. Fresno, CA.

San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District. 2012 PM2.5 Plan (2012), Chapter 4 – Scientific Foundation and PM2.5 Modeling Results

Chen, J.; Lu, J.; Avise, J. C.; DaMassa, J. A.; Kleeman, M. J. & Kaduwela, A. P. (2014), Seasonal modeling of PM2.5 in Californias San Joaquin Valley, Atmospheric Environment 92, p. 182-190.

Kleeman, Michael J., Qi Ying, Ajith Kaduwela (2005) Control Strategies for the Reduction of Airborne Particulate Nitrate in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Atmospheric Environment, 39 (29), p. 5325 – 5341

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Regulating Ammonia Emissions from Agriculture: Potential Pitfalls and Limitations

Currently, there is limited regulation of ammonia (NH3) emissions as a matter of federal policy.  The Clean Air Act (CAA) provides the federal authority for regulation of these emissions.  Although there are reporting requirements for NH3 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act, these statutes do not provide authority to regulate emissions of NH3.  There is increasing pressure to change NH3 policy primarily due to concerns about nutrient enrichment of large water bodies, such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Recently, the EPA has been petitioned to list NH3 as a criteria pollutant; and this request is somewhat supported by the report from the EPA’s Integrated Nitrogen Panel to the Science Advisory Board. There is also the immediate concern of EPA’s treatment of NH3 as a precursor to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Regulation of NH3 as a precursor to PM2.5 will make it a regulated pollutant under the CAA. It will be difficult to regulate only the ‘excess’ portion of reactive N, particularly since ‘excess’ cannot be defined as a constant. Roughly 60- 85% of NH3 emissions in the U.S. are estimated to come from agricultural sources, a sector that varies considerably from the traditional industrial sources addressed by the environmental statutes.  In fact, in most of these statutes, there is recognition that agricultural sources are different; and some regulatory exemptions are provided. Most likely, Congress did not anticipate the application of the CAA to agricultural sources or it would have included some exemptions in it as well. Nevertheless, regulation of NH3 emissions under the CAA will make it extremely difficult for EPA to consider the positive value and need for fertilizer NH3, which could have huge implications for the viability of the domestic and global food supply. 

Purpose 

Members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Air Quality Task Force (AAQTF) recognize the ever increasing pressure to change ammonia policy in the United States and to regulate sources of ammonia emissions under various environmental statutes including the Clean Air Act (CAA). Ammonia is not your ordinary air pollutant and will be difficult to regulate appropriately under the current construct of the CAA. Therefore, members of the AAQTF developed and approved a paper outlining information that regulators should consider before regulating ammonia emissions entitled, “Ammonia Emissions: What to Know Before You Regulate.”

What did we do? 

Consideration of NH3 as an air pollutant will require the EPA to acknowledge and address the role of NH3 in the full nitrogen (N) cycle and specifically address emission reduction measures that do not merely transfer NH3 from one environmental medium to another. It will be difficult to regulate only the “excess” portion of reactive N, particularly since “excess” cannot be defined as a constant. Regulation of NH3 emissions under the CAA will make it extremely difficult for EPA to consider the positive value and need for fertilizer NH3, which could have huge implications for the viability of the domestic and global food supply.

To date, pollutants regulated under the CAA are considered “bad” for public health and for the environment; and the statute is designed to limit the impacts of these pollutants by reducing or eliminating their emissions. As EPA moves to regulate greenhouse gases, it is encountering difficulty in applying the existing statute in its consideration of carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which is a necessary component of the life cycle of plants and animals. Regulation of NH3 emissions within the constraints of the existing CAA will prove no less daunting and may lead to costly and illogical outcomes with little actual benefit to the environment or human health.

Prior to regulating ammonia emissions, EPA regulators must fully understand ammonia’s role in agriculture. Not only must there be an understanding of the nitrogen cycle from a chemical perspective, but there must be a full understanding from a biological perspective as well. These biological processes cannot be easily predicted or controlled and are based on many factors such as geographic region, cropping system, management practices, soil characteristics, climate and field variability. In animal production systems, there must be an understanding of diets and nitrogen use efficiency of the various species and the impacts of the housing systems, manure characteristics and management, and climate variables.

The EPA regulators must also not only understand the fate, transport, and transformation of atmospheric ammonia but must be able to quantify these processes. Any regulation of agricultural sources of ammonia should be informed by knowledge of management practices that will reduce emissions without negatively impacting animal and plant health and production levels. Ammonia reduction strategies must be considered across the entire production spectrum and not on individual aspects of production.

Underlying any regulation must be accurate measurement of the emissions and the ability to measure compliance, i.e., reductions and impacts. However, ammonia emissions are fugitive, vary spatially and temporally, and are readily influenced by many factors (e.g., source, climate, management practices, etc.) making it difficult to determine at a farm level, a precise emission factor. There are currently no easy and economical ways to directly monitor emissions from commercial livestock and cropping farms, which will make emissions estimation and enforcement challenging. Proceeding to regulation without proven methodologies for measurement of agricultural sources of ammonia and the ability to demonstrate scientifically the effectiveness of reduction practices, does not seem appropriate.

Nitrogen is essential to both crop and animal production, and when not supplied in sufficient amounts, will decrease both crop yield and animal productivity, risk declining soil system health and sustainability, and generate a loss for producers and perhaps even increase the overall environmental footprint of agricultural activities. Certain management or mitigation practices may be too costly for many producers given the current market value of agricultural commodities, so any regulation must considered how these costs will be covered.

What have we learned? 

A collaborative dialogue with the agricultural community needs to occur prior to considering regulation. Current approaches of voluntary and incentive-based efforts are accomplishing significant improvements in soil health and reducing erosion and loss of nutrients, and agencies should recognize these improvements.

EPA can assist constructive dialog by avoiding regulatory silos and embracing holistic approaches in development of policies as it focuses on the agricultural sector; avoiding “One size fits all” style requirements; and avoiding multiple regulations on the same practice.

Farmers of the U.S. and the world must meet the food, fiber, and fuel needs of the predicted nine billion people by 2050. Therefore, any regulation of ammonia under the Clean Air Act must address its impact on the sustainability of domestic and global food supply as part of the mandatory statutory requirement to evaluate public health and welfare effects and the vitality of rural communities.

Future Plans 

The AAQTF will continue to address these issues and attempt to facilitate future dialogue with EPA and USDA on these issues.

Authors

Sally Shaver, President, Shaver Consulting, Inc. slshaver50@aol.com

Dr. April Leytem, USDA-ARS, NW Irrigation and Soils Lab, Kimberly, ID

Dr. Robert Burns, Assistant Dean for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Economic Development, University of Tennessee Extension, Knoxville

Dr. Hongwei Xin, Director of Egg Industry Center, Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Animal Sciences, Iowa State University

Dr. Lingjuan Wang-Li, Associate Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, North Carolina State University

Lara Moody, Director of Stewardship Program, The Fertilizer Institute

Dr. Nicole Embertson, Resource Coordinator – Sustainable Livestock Production Program, Whatcom Conservation District, Lynden, WA

Dr. Eileen Fabian-Wheeler, Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Penn State University.

Additional information 

The paper, Ammonia Emissions: What to Know Before You Regulate, is located on the USDA website

Acknowledgements

The contributions of members of the AAQTF to the discussions of these issues and to the development of the paper are recognized and greatly appreciated.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.