Land use diversity in rural areas, including agricultural, residential and recreational, requires tools that can provide objective information about air quality. The Odor Footprint Tool, from the University of Nebraska, is one such tool. It is intended for use in planning and screening to make timely, well-informed decisions when sitting livestock facilities and evaluating odor-control options.

The Odor Footprint Tool estimates the frequency of odor events around livestock facilities. It uses this information to determine minimum separation distances that should be maintained around those facilities and where best to locate facilities. However, the tool does not report how far odor will travel and does not predict when odor events will occur.

“Once baseline modeling is performed for a location, simplified footprints can be developed fairly readily for the region, using commonly available resources and expertise,” according to the odor footprint tool document. “Simplified footprints show risk-based impact areas based upon the largest setbacks needed in one or more directions.”

You enter information about the livestock facilities for a given site, the site location (for weather data), use of supplemental odor control and any special terrain. After using the Odor Footprint Tool, the user receives minimum setback distances in four directions. The separation distances take into account the size and type of facilities on the site, use of proven odor-control technology, regional weather records, prevailing tolerance odor levels and local terrain.

Another use of the tool is to compare odor-control technology options for a facility.

Several resources are available to help you understand the value of visualizing a livestock facility’s odor footprint and information you will need to use the tool. Instructions are provided that will let you determine directional setback distances using the spreadsheet version of the Odor Footprint Tool.

For more information, go to and enter “Odor Footprint Tool” in the search box.