After about a decade worth of research, scientists and engineers are now revealing ways to reduce those unpleasant smells in our area. Amarillo's Texas AgriLife studied air quality issues related to area feedlots and dairies.
They've learned how to identify several compounds that cause the odors coming from these facilities. Kenneth Casey with Texas A&M Agrilife Research says, "Some compounds tend to react and disperse quite quickly so they tend not to be found a distance from a facility. Whereas there are some compounds which are quite persistent in an environment."
Casey says they can figure out a treatment process or look at reducing the amount of sulfur in an animal's diet to reduce the amount of odorous sulfur compounds produced.
They also did research on commercial products, many of which mask the odor with a more pleasant smell, claiming to reduce odor. He says, "A lot of compounds tested; there have been very few shown to be effective."
Casey says there are also logistical challenges. He says, "The problem is how do you take a solution that works in the laboratory, in a beaker on the desk, and apply it over something the size of a feedyard." And economical challenges because some of the compounds are very expensive.
They also discovered that in a dry environment, like the drought we're in, less odor is produced than under wet conditions. He says, "Making sure there's not too much manure in the pens, making sure they drain quickly, making sure the manure management system doesn't contain wet manure for any length of time."
As far as the odor being dangerous, Casey says the concentrations are very minimal, and there haven't been documented health effects.