"The EPA rule basically gave these livestock operations one month to report on-going emissions that exceeded the thresholds," Dr. Ken Casey, AgriLife Research air quality engineer said. "Needless to say releasing the rule when they did, just before Christmas, without any advance notice and requiring reporting in the early new year, left the industry scrambling to get together a response, as well as give responsible guidance to their members," Casey said.
The writing team of Dr. Rick Todd and Dr. Andy Cole, both with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service; Dr. David Parker, West Texas A&M; and Dr. Brent Auvermann, AgriLife Extension, as well as others on their teams, worked to distill the collective ammonia results on short notice.
"We needed to convey to EPA that no single number is adequate to represent a basis for an emission factor, because emissions vary with what the cattle are fed, with the season, and even with the time of day," Auvermann said. "We presented EPA and the cattle-feeding industry with a range of emission factors that we believe would represent most feed yards in our area."
Research from this project has shown that emission rates for ammonia during winter months are about half of the emission rates during summer months, Todd said.
"Texas Panhandle feeding operations with more than 1,000 cattle could exceed the 100 pound/day reporting requirement," Todd said. "But the negative environmental effects of ammonia that EPA is concerned about are most likely where ammonia mixes with urban air pollution, or when ammonia is removed from the atmosphere in rain and over-fertilizes sensitive ecosystems."
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Texas A&M AgriLife Communications