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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 4, p. 1173-1182
    Received: May 20, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): McGinn@agr.gc.ca
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Atmospheric Ammonia, Volatile Fatty Acids, and Other Odorants near Beef Feedlots

  1. S. M. McGinn *,
  2. H. H. Janzen and
  3. T. Coates
  1. Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Box 3000, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1


Intensive livestock operations can release odorous gases from stored or land-applied manure. We measured concentrations of dust and 14 odor-causing gases at increasing distances from four feedlots near Lethbridge, southern Alberta, Canada. Concentration was determined from the amount of total dust or gas accumulated in the samplers, and the volume of air sampled. Adjacent the feedlots, the maximum concentration of many volatile fatty acids exceeded reported odor detection thresholds; the maximum ammonia concentration was close to the threshold. Ammonia and butyric acid approached or exceeded their individual odor thresholds as far as 200 m downwind of the feedlots. Highest concentrations were measured adjacent to land where manure was being applied. None of the odorant concentrations exceeded their irritation threshold. There was a positive relationship between ammonia concentration and odor intensity as well as dry deposition. Much of the emitted ammonia was deposited to soil immediately downwind, enough to supply all the nitrogen needed for crop growth. Odorant concentrations declined sharply with distance, though measurable odor occasionally persisted to 1 km from the feedlot, beyond the minimum separation guidelines (Alberta) for a single residential dwelling. The weekly averaged total suspended particulates (>5 μm) were below the Alberta guideline criterion except for one period. Differences among feedlots in odorant plume concentrations were partly related to the stocking density of feedlots, which presumably affects manure moisture and amount of volatiles within the pens.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:1173–1182.