Trees ‘can cut emissions from poultry farms’

Planting just three rows of trees around poultry farms can cut nuisance emissions of dust, ammonia, and odours from poultry houses and help reduce complaints from neighbouring properties, US researchers suggest.

A Science Daily article quotes George Malone from the University of Delaware as saying the tree barrier can cut some of the emissions by almost a half.

Dr Malone presented his findings at the annual conference of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The team of researchers said planting vegetation could reduce ammonia and particulates that may degrade surrounding air and water quality.

“We were aware of the concerns locally,” said Malone. “We looked at what we could do to address them and the whole area of air quality as it relates to the emission of ammonia from poultry houses.”

In response, they proposed planting trees to serve as a vegetative filter that could capture emissions from family-run farms, which can house an average of 75,000 chickens.

In their six-year study, Dr Malone and his team found that a three-row plot of trees of various species and sizes reduced total dust by 56% percent, ammonia by 53%, and odour levels were cut by about 18%.

However, Dr Malone added that certain tree species were more effective as barriers than others.

“We’ve certainly been on a learning curve since 2001 about the different plant materials suitable for this practice,” he said.

“We typically recommend the first row nearest the fans to be either a deciduous tree or a tree with a waxy leaf surface and the other two rows be an evergreen.

“It’s very important to realise there are a number of criteria that you use in tree selection and planting design. What works for our soil types and climate on the Delmarva Peninsula may not be suitable for other locations.”

The living filter system also has other benefits, the University of Delaware researcher noted.

For instance, it conserves energy by increasing shade and cooling in the summer and acts as a buffer to reduce heating costs in the winter.

Not only do trees enhance air quality, they also improve the water quality around poultry farms because they can filter pollutants from soil and groundwater.

Source: Science Daily

Date: 22/08/2008

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