University of Illinois research now has $251,000 to spend on new technologies for reducing swine odors. The Illinois Attorney General’s office awarded the grant.

"Although there are a relatively large number of products and technologies being promoted for emission reduction, few have been subjected to evaluation in the real world of swine production," explains Michael Ellis, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and leader of the project. "We will create a number of 'Discovery Farm' existing enterprises that will not only test these new technologies but demonstrate the best design and management practices to achieve emission reduction."

Joining Ellis in overseeing the project are Ted Funk and Yanhui Zhang, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Gary Schnitkey of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

For the past decade, Ellis and other U of I researchers have engaged in two major research initiatives involving emissions from swine production facilities.

"The issue of emissions of dust, odors and gases from swine facilities is of critical importance to the state's swine industry," says Ellis. "Public complaints and concerns about proposed siting of new facilities and expansion of existing operations are focused largely on the potential impact of emissions. These concerns continue to be the major limitation on long-term public acceptance and the prosperity of the industry."

According to the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the pork industry has invested a tremendous amount of resources in odor research. IPPA alone has invested nearly $80,000 in the last two years towards these efforts.

In late 2004, IPPA initiated the Illinois Pork Odor Research Advisory Committee comprised of pork producers, pork industry representatives, academia and government officials. This group was a follow-up to the three-year efforts of the Illinois C-FAR (Council on Food and Agricultural Research) Strategic Research Initiative on Swine Odor and Waste Management.

This committee determined that pork producers needed independently tested and validated information to help them make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate technology for their farms. The group identified technologies and practices that needed further on-farm testing to evaluate their effectiveness and their economic viability.  

Ellis and his team from the University of Illinois, established a "Discovery Farm" at a finishing operation near McLean, Ill. This allows producers to apply information to their facilities.

The "Discovery Farm" project will consist of three phases. The first phase involves identification of the "Discovery Farms." Phase II involves installation of equipment at each site, and Phase III will test emission reduction technologies.

Among the technologies that Ellis plans to test are biofilters; chimney stack exhausts; lagoon covers;  the Good Neighbor System,” a three-part program that claims to dramatically reduce gas emissions; the ELM system which uses electric current to kill bacteria; and the BEI Biocurtain.

University of Illinois news release