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.

What’s New with Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs)?

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Purpose

A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is a management plan to utilize nutrients and to manage the collection, handling, storage, application, & utilization of animal waste. The purpose of the plan is to address soil erosion, water quality, and air quality concerns. Even though a CNMP is not a regulatory document, portions can potentially be used in the permitting process. It is meant to be a dynamic plan to help the producer’s operation to be sustainable. Landowner of animal feeding operations (AFO’s) that receive technical and/or financial assistance from NRCS are required to have a CNMP. This includes dairies, beef feedlots, poultry, and swine operations. Land application of manure is not a requirement. There are no animal numbers thresholds for a CNMP.

What did we do?

In 1999 the Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations directed USDA and EPA to work together to address environmental issues with AFO’s. The CNMP was developed as a voluntary way for a landowner to take action. The original document had a ten part format and was truly comprehensive. Any planner or engineer associated with the plan had to sign it. Developing a CNMP in this format was difficult and time consuming and in some cases the document became so large in size that no one updated them.

What have we learned?

In October 2015 the format changed back to a plan that is more consistent with a conservation plan, recording the decisions of the landowner/cooperator with regard to managing waste and utilizing the nutrients.

The plan now has a four part format. The first part is the signature page where the NRCS representative and the landowner sign confirming the decisions. Section one follows the signature page and documents decisions with regard to the Production Area (Farmstead). It includes maps, animal inventory, and records of decisions for the production area only. Section two documents the decisions with regard to the Land Treatment Area (Crop and Pasture). It contains maps, resource assessments, implementation requirements and records of decision for the land treatment areas. The third section documents decisions with regard to Nutrient Management. This includes risk analyses, setbacks, nutrient applications, and field balances.

For livestock operations with greater than 300 animal units a printout of the National Air Quality Site Assessment tool (NAQSAT) is now required as supporting documentation in the CNMP. It is to increase awareness of air quality issues that may be addressed on farm.

Several parts of the original format are not included in the current format. This includes the Operation and Maintenance plan and the Emergency Response plan. Both would now be found in the case file and not in the CNMP itself.

Picture of a field

Looking at crop residue.

Slurry containment

Evaluating solid separation on the farmstead.

Picture of people in field at demo

Discussing crop rotation and setbacks.

Future Plans

States are currently integrating the new national format. The CNMP format will be reviewed periodically to make sure that the document stays on track as a usable management tool for the landowner.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Sandy Means, Environmental Engineer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, East National Technical Center, Greensboro, NC

Corresponding author email

Sandy.Means@gnb.usda.gov

Additional information

Resources:

NRCS General Manual, Title 190, Part 405 Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans

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.

Liquid Manure Sampling Procedures

When testing manure, your nutrient management plan is only as good as your ability to obtain a representative sample. In liquid manure storage, agitation is critical to spreading uniform manure and to getting a representative sample. Agitating for 2-4 hours is the minimum. Depending on the type of storage longer agitation times may be required. The agitation for sampling should be similar to the agitation done when the storage is emptied. For this reason the most practical time to sample is when the storage is being emptied for field application.

If the storage is not adequately agitated there will likely be stratification. The figure below illustrates how manure analysis can vary within a storage without adequate agitation. In this example manure in the last 15 loads spread from this storage has 2 to 3 times more phosphorus than in the first 45 loads spread. If the storage is known to be stratified, separate samples should be taken as the manure consistency changes during emptying.

diagram

cc2.5 Les Lanyon

Sampling As Manure Storage Is Emptied

Agitate the storage thoroughly before sampling. Use a bucket to collect at least 5 samples during the process of loading several spreader loads and save them in the bucket. When all of the samples are collected, thoroughly mix the samples and take a subsample from this to fill the lab manure test container. When filling containers with liquid manure never fill the container more than ¾ full. If samples are collected over a several hour period, the bucket with manure sample should be stored on ice to limit ammonia losses.

Sample Manure When Pumping From Storage. Photo courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Photo Source: http://www.thecattlesite.com/articles/1307/sampling-liquid-manure-for-analysis


Sampling From the Manure Storage

Picture Source: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/pages/communications/epc/Winter02/manure.html

Sampling a storage directly is much more difficult and likely to result in more variable results than sampling as the manure is loaded into the spreader. Agitate the storage thoroughly before sampling. Use a small bucket or tube to collect at least 5 samples from different locations in the storage. Combine these samples in a bucket and thoroughly mix the samples and take a subsample from this to fill the lab manure test container. When filling containers with liquid manure never fill the container more than ¾ full.

Liquid Manure Sampling Video

This video from the Iowa Learning Farms Project shows two sampling techniques for liquid manure storage prior to agitation. As indicated above, samples of agitated liquid manure should be obtained when possible, but in cases where the information from the lab analysis (which can take several days) is needed before manure can be applied to crop land.

Part 2: Sampling Liquid Manure

Sampling Manure During Application

This method is good for irrigated manure. Place buckets around the field to catch manure from the spreader or irrigation equipment. Place these to collect manure from more than one spreader load. Combine and mix the manure collected from different locations, and take a subsample from this to fill the lab manure test container. This method may give you “crop available ammonia nitrogen” as any ammonia losses may have already occurred prior to reaching bucket. What reaches the bucket is likely to soak into the soil and be available to the crop.

Related Web Pages

Overview of Manure Testing

Page Authors: Douglas Beegle, Penn State University and John Peters, University of Wisconsin