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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AIR QUALITY IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY REGION AS INFLUENCED BY AGRICULTURAL LAND USE CHANGES
2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The overall goal of this bridging project is to investigate the potential pollutants and agricultural management practices that affect air quality within the Chesapeake Bay region. Agricultural activities in this region have traditionally been production of corn, soybeans, and specialty crops and some confined animal operations; however, production of bioenergy crops including corn, hulless barley, and switch grass are expected to increase as energy costs rise. Urban encroachment has also become a major concern in this region resulting in increased NOx production which can lead to ozone formation in the presence of VOCs. Objective 1: Identify the major emission sources of agricultural pollutants, such as particulate, pesticide active and inert ingredients and other VOCs, and greenhouse gases within the Chesapeake Bay airshed. Objective 2: Determine the predominant fate processes and atmospheric components that influence the fate of agricultural air-borne pollutants. Objective 3: Estimate the spatial and temporal variability of emissions using a combination of field measurements, remotely-sensed, and land use data. Objective 4: Develop a framework to predict the influence of land use changes and agricultural production practices on air quality for use by policy makers, regulators, and natural resource managers.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Rapid detection technologies, such as nano and molecular imprinting technologies, will be developed for measuring agricultural pollutants in air. Using newly-developed and traditional techniques, the emission of air-borne pollutants will be measured in selected subwatersheds. Measurements will be taken over several growing seasons in different land use areas and compared to a previously-identified non-urban area where no agricultural activities have occurred for over thirty years. The fate of identified air borne pollutants will be examined in newly-developed chemical fate models. In areas where urban land use is adjacent to agricultural lands, available NOx and meteorological data will be utilized to predict the potential of agricultural pollutants to form ozone. Predictions will be compared to available ozone concentrations. Measured pollutant concentration data will be combined with land use, physical chemical constants, and meteorological data to produce an estimate of total emissions and potential ozone emission as a function of land use. These data will then be extrapolated to consider the effects of land-use changes and agricultural activity on air quality in the Chesapeake Bay region.


3.Progress Report
This bridging project was initiated in April 2007. Presentation of research results from the previous project have been made to the Maryland Pesticide Advisory Board and the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Toxic Substances Committee. These groups have requested additional air and water quality data in the Chesapeake Bay Region as a function of changes in agricultural practices due to increased production of bioenergy crops. Discussions with NRCS, SWCS, Maryland Department of Agriculture, university scientists, and producer and farmer groups from the Delmarva Region have provided new insight on the use of vegetative environmental buffers. Protocols are being developed by these groups concerning implementation and maintenance; however, the effectiveness of these buffers to control emissions from farm operations and to improve air quality has been documented in only a cursory fashion. Furthermore, the optimal design and maintenance requirements have not been defined. Several site visits were conducted to discern opportunities for on-farm research.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None


6.Technology Transfer

Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings3

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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