Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UC Davis Corrals Cows In Bovine Bubbles To Study Air Emissions

Date:
July 23, 2004
Source:
University Of California - Davis
Summary:
On the trail of fugitive dust, a UC Davis air-quality specialist discovered that some very outdated science is causing fits in the state's dairy industry. Now he has launched a first-of-its-kind research project to get to the bottom of Bossie's contribution to air pollution.

Cows enter the air-pollution barn, known as the bovine bio-bubble. (Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis photo)

On the trail of fugitive dust, a UC Davis air-quality specialist discovered that some very outdated science is causing fits in the state's dairy industry. Now he has launched a first-of-its-kind research project to get to the bottom of Bossie's contribution to air pollution.

Related Articles


For the next two years Frank Mitloehner, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science, will monitor several dozen Holstein heifers in airtight bovine bio-bubbles. Housing the cows in these greenhouse-like structures will enable scientists to quantify airborne emissions of ammonia, particulate matter or "fugitive dust," and volatile organic compounds that give rise to ozone.

"This is the only controlled project like this in the country," Mitloehner said. "We will be measuring nutrients fed to and excreted from cows and all the related emissions released into a closely monitored atmosphere."

What prompted this unusual research project is concern over air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, which ranks among the worst in the country. The valley also has a high concentration of dairy farms that add dust and air emissions to the atmosphere. Detailed data about the dairy industry's role in air quality are needed to give the industry and state agencies current information for regulatory decisions.

The $600,000 study is funded by the State Water Resources Control Board and Merced County and has received matching funds from UC Davis.

Looking much like Quonset huts, Mitloehner's four covered corrals each measure 70 by 40 feet and arch 15 feet high. Each pen will house 10 heifers (young cows that have never given birth) or 10 non-lactating adult cows, which typically make up more than half of a dairy's herd.

In addition to emissions, animal scientists will monitor ambient air and surface temperature, surface moisture, relative humidity, static pressure and the volume of air moving through the bio-bubbles.

In the first year of the project, Mitloehner's team of graduate students and staff researchers will be investigating several methods to reduce dust, ammonia and volatile organic compounds. Rice straw bedding, for instance, is believed to reduce ammonia emissions and could have other benefits, too -- keeping livestock pens dry in winter and dust-free in summer while creating a new use for an agricultural waste product.

Ammonia is of concern because it combines with nitrogen or sulfur oxides to create irritating, fine dust particles that pose health risks. Dust kicked up by the trampling of dried dairy or feedlot manure is another health concern because tiny particles known as PM 10 or PM 2.5 (a reference to particle size in microns) are a human respiratory hazard.

In the second year of the project, Mitloehner's team will examine how various feed rations affect what wafts into the atmosphere.

A concurrent study will house a smaller number of cows in smaller, more tightly controlled environmental chambers to evaluate emissions and provide state regulators with an emission factor grounded in good, current science.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District recently issued new rules that require dairies with more than 500 cows, and farmers with more than 100 contiguous acres of cropland, to implement conservation management practices to control dust by December 31, 2004. As of July 1 of this year, new state legislation requires air permits for all agricultural operations whose emissions exceed a certain threshold.

"The emission factor that determines dairy emissions today is derived from a study that is not only critically outdated but that did not measure volatile organic compounds at all," Mitloehner says. "Nonetheless, this is how air-quality regulators are determining who requires a permit until better data are available."

Mitloehner knows dairy air. He studied how to reduce stockyard emissions in Texas before becoming a UC Davis Extension specialist in 2002. This spring he worked with more than 700 dairy producers in air-quality workshops throughout the San Joaquin Valley, educating them on air quality issues, helping them conduct on-farm assessments and walking them through the permitting process. This educational effort is part of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, a collaborative program that includes industry, state regulators, environmental groups and the University of California.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Davis. "UC Davis Corrals Cows In Bovine Bubbles To Study Air Emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093355.htm>.
University Of California - Davis. (2004, July 23). UC Davis Corrals Cows In Bovine Bubbles To Study Air Emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093355.htm
University Of California - Davis. "UC Davis Corrals Cows In Bovine Bubbles To Study Air Emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040723093355.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii was 225 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday night. The lava is slowing down but still approaching the village. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins