Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 12, 2011
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Citation: Yates, S.R., Mcconnell, L.L., Hapeman, C.J., Papiernik, S.K., Gao, S., Trabue, S.L. 2011. Managing agricultural emissions to the atmosphere: State of the science, fate and mitigation, and identifying research gaps. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40(5):1347-1358. Interpretive Summary: The efficiency and sustainability of agriculture production is highly dependent upon interactions within the soil-water-atmosphere-plant-animal ecosystem. Recent advances in agricultural practices have helped to maintain the world’s population of needed food and fiber, increasing life expectancy and reducing illnesses related to malnutrition. While modern agricultural systems have provided considerable benefits to the growing world population, these activities have also produced some undesirable environmental consequences including damage to soil, water, and atmospheric resources. This has led the research community to study the short and long term effects of agricultural activities on local and regional ecosystems and to investigate strategies to mitigate atmospheric deterioration due to agricultural emissions. In 2009, in Washington DC, a symposium entitled Managing Agricultural Gas and Particle Emissions was held at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society to examine the latest advances in measurement technologies, modeling tools, and mitigation strategies. The symposium objectives were: (i) to review what is currently known about agricultural impacts on regional air quality and the environment, (ii) to present current research and identify research gaps related to agricultural impacts on air quality, and (iii) to present current information on methods to mitigate and/or manage emissions in an environmentally benign manner. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of the topic area, to introduce the papers that were presented in the symposium, and to identify critical knowledge and research gaps that were identified by the participants. By providing an overview of the interaction between agriculture and regional air quality, this paper will be of considerable interest to scientists, regulators, consultants, commodity groups and growers.
Technical Abstract: The impact of agriculture on regional air quality creates significant challenges to sustainability of food supplies and to the quality of national resources. Agricultural emissions to the atmosphere can lead to many nuisances, such as smog, haze, or offensive odors. They can also create more serious effects on human or environmental health, such as those posed by pesticides and toxic industrial pollutants. It is recognized that deterioration of the atmosphere is undesirable, but the short- and long-term impacts of specific agricultural activities on air quality are not well known or understood. These concerns led to the organization of the 2009 American Chemical Society Symposium entitled Managing Agricultural Gas and Particle Emissions. An outcome of this symposium was a special collection of 14 research papers focusing on various issues associated with production agriculture and its effect on air quality. Topics included emissions from animal feeding operations, odors, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, mitigation, modeling, and risk assessment. These papers provide new research insights, identify gaps in current knowledge, and recommend important future research directions. As the scientific community gains a better understanding of the relationships between anthropogenic activities and their effects on environmental systems, technological advances should enable a reduction in adverse consequences on the environment.