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.

Pesticide Application Air Quality Emissions Inventory Project

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Abstract

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires states to submit to them air quality emission inventories for all types of sources every three years. In 2012, the Central States Air Resource Agencies Association (CenSARA) and its contractor, TranSystems Corporation (TranSystems), developed a 2011 agricultural pesticide emissions inventory for the association’s member states of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

Crops grown in this region total more than 140 million acres and are routinely treated with pesticide products, such as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.  Row crops, such as corn, soybeans, and sorghum and non-row crops, such as fruit orchards, were included in the work.  Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and/or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are in pesticide ingredients; VOCs being a main contributor to ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.  In this work, 458 active ingredient-specific VOC emission factors were developed, based primarily on empirically derived pesticide chemical data maintained by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations; county level active ingredient throughputs were derived from the best available information.

An emissions calculation tool was developed to produce emissions, following a linear crop to acreage relationship as the default. Participating states can use the tool to input local practices such as the selection of crops and/or the choice of pesticide products, as well as the extent and amount of applications. The work also included a survey to try to understand the timeframes pesticides are applied to various crops. These parameters can significantly alter the default linear relationship.  The final product provided the individual states with 2011 emission estimates and a methodology to account for better data when obtained, which can result in a more accurate emission inventory for this source category.

Authors

Theresa Pella, Central States Air Resource Agencies Association tpella@censara.org

Juan A. Maldonado, TranSystems Corporation, jamaldonado@transystems.com, Dr. Chun Yi Wu, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency chun.yi.wu@state.mn.us

 

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. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.