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Ammonia Measuring Methods to Be Evaluated at ARS Lab

By Luis Pons
September 4, 2003

AMES, Iowa, Sept. 4--Technologies for measuring airborne ammonia will be evaluated over several weeks here and in Texas during testing sponsored by the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a nonprofit research and development firm.

The test cycle kicks off here today when the nonprofit firm, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, presents a Technology Field Day at the ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory (NSTL), located on Iowa State University's campus. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Today's event features demonstrations of the new technologies. During the testing, which begins Sept. 8 and runs through the end of October, technologies developed by at least six vendors will be evaluated by the Advanced Monitoring Systems (AMS) Center.

The center, managed by Battelle in partnership with EPA's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program, tests commercially available technologies that monitor air, water and soil nationwide. ETV provides potential customers of the technologies with information for making informed purchase and application decisions.

Ammonia emission reduction is among the goals of two ARS national programs, "Air Quality" and "Manure and Byproduct Utilization."

"The verification testing represents a unique opportunity for USDA, EPA and the AMS Center to collaborate and generate meaningful performance information on technologies that can measure ammonia in agricultural applications," said Acting ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "Collaboration between the three organizations on this venture will be mutually beneficial to all."

Present ARS research aimed at characterizing ammonia emissions includes development of measurement tools to quantify emissions from livestock operations and other sources.

The verification testing will take place on a commercial swine farm here and on a commercial beef facility near Amarillo, Tex., after which Battelle will analyze the results. Participating vendors include Pranalytica Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif.; Omnisens of Lausanne, Switzerland; Molecular Analytics of Sparks, Md.; R&R Mechatronics of The Netherlands; and Bruker Daltonics Inc. and Aerodyne Research Inc., both of Billerica, Mass.

NSTL Director Jerry L. Hatfield will serve as project manager for the tests. Throughout the evaluation period, ARS will provide staff to make logistical arrangements with vendors and to record observations of the tests and of general meteorological conditions.