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NAQSAT – a new air emissions assessment tool

Kevin A. Janni

Published in Dairy Star October 15, 2010

NAQSAT is a new web-based tool available to assess how livestock production practices impact air emissions from facilities such as this freestall dairy barn.

The National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) is a new web-based tool available for livestock producers and their consultants who are interested in assessing how their management, technologies and mitigation practices impact air emissions from their operations. Livestock owners and managers are often interested in odor emissions if they have close nearby neighbors or public lands that may be impacted by odors from their operations. They may also be interested in reducing particulate matter, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane or volatile organic compound emissions that contribute to downwind concentrations or deposition. NAQSAT is available for free, online at

NAQSAT is a tool developed with the support of over 25 agricultural partners and universities to provide information and education about how livestock production practices impact air emissions. The tool considers the impact of eight source categories including animals and housing, diet, manure management and handling, land application, mortalities, neighbor relations, and gravel road management on emissions. NAQSAT is based on the most accurate, credible science-based data available regarding mitigation strategies for emissions from animal facilities of the six compounds assessed.

NAQSAT is site and livestock species specific (e.g., dairy, beef, swine, and poultry) based on user inputs. Users answer questions in six source categories, which are tailored to their specific operation based on answers to previous questions. Pictures are often available to assist in selecting responses. Input and session results can be stored online for 30 days.

Users receive a report that identifies potential source categories where improvements could be made to reduce relative emissions. The NAQSAT effectiveness results reflect the degree to which the operation, as described by the inputs, has incorporated practices to minimize air emissions of odor, particulate matter, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and volatile organic compounds from each source category. The results give a relative evaluation of current production system practices based on the best available data and understanding of management systems. The report generated cannot be used to compare one livestock facility to another because the facility evaluation is relative to its potential. Also, NAQSAT does not calculate or estimate the amount of emissions from a facility. No overall operation score is provided.

NAQSAT is best used to identify source categories where alternative practices could be adopted to reduce relative emissions. Once a source category is identified, resources to help implement changes are identified for the user. NAQSAT can be run multiple times with proposed changes included to determine the impact each change would have on relative emissions of the six compounds assessed.

NAQSAT helps assess trade-offs between mitigation practices and their impact on emissions. Dairy operations are complex and source categories have interactions that impact relative emissions. A practice proposed to reduce ammonia emissions may unintentionally increase hydrogen sulfide emissions. NAQSAT helps identify these trade-offs before money is spent and practices are changed to reduce one emission that unintentionally increases another emission.

Two Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center (LPE LC) webcasts were made to describe NAQSAT and its use. Dairy and beef example cases were presented in August, and swine and poultry cases were presented in October. The presentations are archived online and available through the Air Quality in Animal Agriculture LPE LC website. The LPE LC is striving to develop and accumulate information about air quality in animal agriculture. Air emissions and mitigation are active areas of research and development at the University of Minnesota and other land grant universities. The website is expected to continue to expand as new information becomes available.

Dairy producers interested in assessing their odor impact on the local community can use the University of Minnesota Odor From Feedlot Setback Estimation Tool (OFFSET). Users can download and use OFFSET to estimate separation distances to achieve different percent annoyance-free times. Users input information about buildings and area sources including common manure storage units. OFFSET will calculate separation distances. If neighbors or sensitive public areas are located downwind and within the calculated separation distances, the operation owner or manager may want to implement practices to mitigate odor emissions. Information about several practical odor mitigation practices is available at the same University of Minnesota website.

Air emissions from animal feeding operations are an active area of research and policy discussion. The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) has completed its work and submitted the data collected since 2007 to the United State Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The data will be used to establish emissions factors for animal feeding operations. Stay tuned for updates on air quality and air emissions from animal agriculture.

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