Development of a scientifically sound agri-environmental indicator tool to address the odour issue.

Massé, D.I., Narjoux, A., Cournoyer, M., and Pagé, T. (2013). "Development of a scientifically sound agri-environmental indicator tool to address the odour issue.", Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, 6(1), pp. 225-237. doi : 10.1007/s11869-011-0164-1  Access to full text


In response to the need for agri-environmental information and to assess the impacts of agricultural policies on the environment, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada initiated an agri-environmental indicators (AEIs) programme. The need for an odour AEI was identified as a priority. Because of the very large variation in odour emission rates from similar livestock operations, the development of a response indicator for odour is more feasible and practical initially than a state indicator that is based on calculated odour emission rates from livestock operations in specific geospatial (farm, municipal and regional) scales. The response indicator should assess the rate of adoption of odour reduction practices or best management practices (BMPs) by the Canadian agricultural industry. This paper reports on the methodologies used for the collection and critical assessment of information on farm activities and management practices associated with odour generation as well as practices that are actually used or could be used to mitigate odours. The criteria and methodology for calculation of the response indicator and the additional information requirements have also been established. The major sources of farm odour are animals and their manure at confined animal farming operations. Species involved in this project are (1) beef and (2) dairy cattle, (3) swine (hog and sow), (4) poultry (laying hen, broiler and turkey) and (5) sheep. To a lesser level, the project also takes into account pesticides application activities. A list of BMPs is proposed for the development of the scientifically sound odour indicator. An average value of reduction efficiency (in %) is proposed for each selected BMP, according to the range of values from the literature and expert opinions. Ten categories of BMPs were selected through the literature review. The basic structure of the odour indicator is an evaluation table per animal species, which allows determining the odour reduction (in %) associated with applied BMPs for each species. The global odour indicator is obtained after combining the grids per animal species in a study area. Weighting factors between animal species were established to combine the results from the different evaluation grids per animal species. The response odour indicator estimates the adoption rate of odour reduction practices by the Canadian agricultural industry. As there is no simple relationship between the adoption rate of BMPs and odour emissions or even odour impact, the results of the odour indicator require interpretation to compare two situations on a temporal or spatial basis.

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