Most pork-industry personnel understand how diligently pork producers have been working in recent years to reduce potential odor problems. But it’s always nice to have the documentation to back it up, especially in the age of regulation and litigation.

Two IowaStateUniversity surveys showed that Iowa pork producers are using a wide variety of techniques to minimize odor from their operations. While Iowa is not unique in its efforts, it does provide an industry snapshot. The results are an indication of what’s happening in the industry as a whole.

"The survey results help establish a baseline on the use of technologies designed to control odor," notes Jeffery Lorimor, an IowaState associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who conducted the survey with James Kliebenstein, IowaState economics professor.

Funded by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the research involved a mailed survey, which 562 producers returned. A telephone survey of 354 of the 562 producers was conducted in spring 2003. Information concerning the use of odor-control methods, level of satisfaction with those methods, type of production systems, operation size and distance from neighbors was collected. 

The mail survey asked producers if they were using or had used any of 24 different technologies to help reduce odors. The four technologies that scored highest with producers were windbreaks, buildings with deep-pit manure storage, composting mortalities and injecting manure below the soil when applying it to fields as a crop fertilizer.

Some technologies were well liked, but were not widely used. For example, 10 percent of the respondents used manure-storage covers made of natural materials such as straw or chopped corn stalks, called biocovers. Seventy percent of those users said they were satisfied with the results.

The phone survey asked if the pork producer had received any odor complaints. Only a small percentage said “yes,” but more than half of those related to manure application on fields. "Manure application is a key area," Lorimor notes. "It’s only done a few days each year but it leads to many of the complaints. Producers need to use extra caution and care during manure application. More communication and coordination with neighbors in terms of timing manure application may be helpful."

Only a few complaints were related to production facilities or manure storage. "Technologies used to control odors from buildings or manure-storage units appear to be working well," says Kliebenstein.
You can see IowaState’s report summarizing the two surveys at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/airquality/reports/airodorcontrol.pdf. You also can review the article published in the October issue of Pork magazine, by going to http://www.porkmag.com/news_editorial.asp?pgID=728&ed_id=2182