Helping Livestock and Poultry Operations Manage Nutrients
Under a four-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water, RTI and North Carolina State University's Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center helped livestock and poultry farmers better understand the potential for environmental impacts from their facilities and identify best management practices they can use.
Since 2007, the Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment and Nutrient Management Planning (CLEANEast) project has provided confidential environmental assessments and nutrient management planning assistance to beef, dairy, swine, poultry, and other livestock operations at no cost to the farmer.
Working in 27 states east of the Mississippi River, an RTI team led by Marion Deerhake conducted a threefold program of tools development, outreach to farmers, and environmental assessments.
RTI developed a set of tools and methods that included a farm operation profile, an environmental assessment tool, a nutrient management plan protocol, a nutrient environmental release potential indicator, and an ammonia air emissions mitigation indicator.
The RTI team reached out to farm owners and operators by creating a website containing information about CLEANEast, speaking at professional and trade association meetings, placing stories and advertisements in trade journals, and communicating with state and local agents.
RTI's Karen Schaffner managed the team of technical assistance professionals, who worked with more than 430 farms to conduct an environmental assessment, update an existing nutrient management plan, or prepare a new nutrient management plan.
"The outreach methods and tools we developed can be used in guiding livestock and poultry farmers in the U.S. and internationally, and our systems for managing farm-based technicians help growers run efficient and effective services," explained Deerhake.
By project's end, the RTI team completed more than 295 environmental assessments and more than 390 nutrient management plans for participating farms. Follow-up surveys of farm operators showed that more than 90 percent of respondents agreed that the CLEANEast process increased their awareness of potential environmental challenges.