Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HEADQUARTERS COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS - NATURAL RESOURCES AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS (NR&SAS) Title: Agricultural Air Quality: A USDA Perspective

Authors
item Knighton, Ray -
item Johnson, Greg -
item Walthall, Charles

Submitted to: Environmental Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 26, 2011
Publication Date: July 1, 2011
Citation: Knighton, R., Johnson, G., Walthall, C.L. 2011. Agricultural Air Quality: A USDA Perspective. Environmental Management. 49:(1):1-5.

Interpretive Summary: Agricultural air quality concerns have broadened recently because of the increasing urban-rural interface; greater understanding of the impact of air quality on health, visibility and safety, and coincident regulation increases; and the increasing size and density of some farming operations. The USDA has responded through research, education, and conservation programs. The USDA maintains in-house and extramural continuous, theme-based scientific programs that solve current problems, develop new science to prepare for future challenges, enable sustainable production, and ensure stewardship of air, land and water resources. Extension staff respond to public inquiries and conduct informal, noncredit workshops and other educational events. NRCS conservation planners help landowners identify on-farm emissions and in develop mitigation strategies. NRCS air quality scientists serve as liaisons between the research community and agency field staff who work directly with landowners. Increased ties with stakeholders and customers will expand with an emphasis on providing sound data to policy-makers and management technologies for producers and land managers. Research on air quality by ARS and NIFA will be strengthened through partnerships and collaborations with scientists from other Federal agencies, universities, industry and non-government organizations, thus ensuring efficient, environmentally-friendly agricultural production practices.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural air quality concerns have broadened recently because of the increasing urban-rural interface; greater understanding of the impact of air quality on health, visibility and safety, and coincident regulation increases; and increasing size and density of some farming operations. The USDA has responded through research, education, and conservation programs. The USDA maintains in-house and extramural continuous, theme-based scientific programs that solve current problems, develop new science to prepare for future challenges, enable sustainable production, and ensure stewardship of air, land and water resources. Emission categories targeted by USDA research and air resource conservation activities include direct PM emissions, ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), odorous sulfur compounds, and the three agriculturally-important GHGs: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. USDA Air Quality programs also engage in extramural outreach activities including the transfer of technologies and best practices to agricultural producers and the regulatory community to enable reduced production and transport of air pollutants and GHG. All USDA research is peer-reviewed with research priorities set via discussions with stakeholders and customers. An extensive network of state, regional, and county extension offices exist in every U.S. state and territory. Extension staff respond to public inquiries and conduct informal, noncredit workshops and other educational events. The NRCS organizes conservation activity around the principle of resource concerns. The foundational concerns are soil, water, air, plants, animals, humans and, most recently, energy. NRCS conservation planners assist landowners to identify on-farm emissions and in develop mitigation strategies. NRCS air quality scientists serve as liaisons between the research community and agency field staff who work directly with landowners. During 2004 the NRCS formed the national Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Technology Development Team specifically to better integrate new technology into the agency’s conservation planning portfolio. USDA air quality activities also benefits from advice and consultation from the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force Federal Advisory Committee, convened by the Chief of NRCS. For the future, increased ties with stakeholders and customers will expand with an emphasis on providing sound data to policy-makers and management technologies for producers and land managers. Research on air quality by ARS and NIFA will continue strengthening through partnerships and collaborations with scientists from other Federal agencies, universities, industry and non-government organizations, thus ensuring efficient, environmentally-friendly agricultural production practices.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page