October 15, 2007

Study: Livestock Operators to Learn Strategies to Improve Air, Water Quality

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Terrence Pierson
Terrence Pierson

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- Researchers at RTI International and North Carolina State University will develop a program to conduct voluntary and confidential environmental assessments of livestock operations in the Eastern United States to help identify and adopt practices that protect the environment.

Researchers will work with representatives of the dairy, beef, poultry and swine sectors to develop a program that will be a valuable resource for livestock producers.

As part of a four-year grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worth almost $4 million, RTI and NCSU will work with volunteer farms in 27 Eastern states to identify environmental challenges and develop approaches to reduce air emissions and runoff from livestock operations to water sources.

The researchers will also assemble state and federal environmental assessments and nutrient management planning tools to assist livestock operators.

"We are very excited to be working with NCSU on this new program. The principal investigators from RTI and NCSU, Marion Deerhake, Leonard Bull, Ph.D., and Mark Rice have assembled an exceptional team," said Terry Pierson, Ph.D., vice president of Environmental Sciences at RTI. "The environmental assessments and nutrient management plan evaluations will enable livestock operators to better understand how their sites affect the air and water quality. With these assessments, livestock operators will be able to make informed decisions about ways to reduce environmental emissions and runoff."

As part of the project, researchers will offer suggestions designed to alleviate any potential environmental deficiencies found at a farm.

"All environmental assessments will be confidential," said Rice, North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist at NCSU. "When researchers visit a farm, they will assess the potential for water and air pollution and the farm's nutrient management plan."

Rice said it would take six months to a year to develop assessment tools. Researchers will then begin looking for farmers willing to take part in the program.