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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Discern the chemical nature, fate, and transport of critical agricultural pollutants emitted to the atmosphere and consider the potential risks posed by reactivity and/or deposition of these chemicals to sensitive ecosystems. Disseminate results to customers concerning the effects of atmospheric agricultural pollutants on environmental quality.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Measure ambient concentrations of agricultural pollutants in soil and in air across the agriculture-urban transect of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Compare volatile organic compound and particulate matter emissions from poultry production under different ammonia management practices. Test novel approaches to fingerprint particulate matter sources chemically and evaluate the fate and transport of critical agricultural pollutants for estimating potential risks using regional-scale atmospheric transport and deposition modeling tools.

3. Progress Report:
Significant progress has been achieved establishing suitable experimental and sampling sites, and additional collaborations have emerged to increase the impact of existing research efforts. Under subobjective 1, an alternate site for the master Beltsville station and a new site in the Choptank River watershed have been identified; initial sampling efforts are underway. Testing of newly-fabricated atmospheric particulate samplers in collaboration with Oklahoma State University (1265-12610-001-03S) and ARS-Mesilla Park revealed challenges in software which are being addressed. Experiments described in subobjective 2 to investigate air quality parameters within and downwind of poultry facilities at ARS-Arkansas have been delayed. However, a new poultry producer in the Choptank River watershed has agreed to host this work and initial tests are underway. Scientists from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), National Plant Materials Center (Beltsville, Maryland) and from University of Delaware are collaborators who are providing expertise in managing the grass and tree buffer and in air pollutant measurement and modeling, respectively. A second poultry producer with an established tree buffer has been identified in Pennsylvania. In the spring, grasses were added to the buffer. Additional resources are being sought through competitive grants to support expansion of this work to several additional producers and ARS-Arkansas. Ultimately, results will be used to develop criteria concerning the design and implementation of VEBs and scrubbers for inclusion in a new NRCS National Conservation Practice Standard(s). Subobjective 2 also includes development and refinement of an atmospheric particulate fingerprinting methodology. The approach combines acquired Raman spectra of single particles with advanced statistical analysis methods. As described, this work was to be conducted using particles captured at poultry facilities, but particles from a large cattle feedlot were utilized instead. These samples were collected in a collaborative study with Kansas State University, ARS-Ames, IA, and ARS-Florence, SC, which was partially funded by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant (1265-12610-001-01R). Work to develop an air quality database for ARS has begun using data collected from the cattle feed lot and cotton ginning data from Oklahoma State University, ARS-Mesilla Park, New Mexico and ARS-Lubbock, Texas. Collaboration with University of Maryland has led to the development of methods that will be utilized in subobjective 3 (1265-12000-040-20S). A novel and inexpensive method is being tested to discern the availability of pollutant residues in soils. It is expected that this approach will be used to estimate the emission potential of semi-volatile organic contaminants observed in soils collected across the Chesapeake Bay region. Progress has been achieved in calibrating the Pesticide Emission Model using existing datasets of pesticide volatilization measured in Beltsville as part of subobjective 3.

4. Accomplishments
1. Innovative method developed to determine sources of particulate matter from agricultural operations. Emissions of particulate matter (PM) from animal feeding operations can be a nuisance to neighboring communities and pose a potential threat to the health of humans and livestock. Particle emission studies usually consider variations in the particle size and the amount of particles, but not the source of the particles. ARS researchers at Beltsville, Maryland and Ames, Iowa in collaboration with Kansas State University have developed a new approach to determine particle sources by creating chemical fingerprints for the most likely sources. They then used this technique to examine the sources of particles in a cattle feedlot. Results showed that cattle pens were the most important source of particles, followed by road dust; cattle feed was only a minor particle source. This work will be used to help producers target the largest particle sources and provides a method to test the effectiveness of mitigation practices.

2. Volatilization and not drift is responsible for pesticides in atmosphere of South Florida ecosystems. The environmental health of fragile ecosystems of South Florida has been declining. Challenges to these ecosystems include nutrient inputs from agricultural activities and urban encroachment as well as frequent use of pesticides. The high humidity and temperatures, frequent rainfall and irrigation, soil type and structure enhance the release of applied pesticides to the atmosphere. ARS researchers from Beltsville, Maryland and Tifton, Georgia in collaboration with University of Florida examined the fate of the insecticide endosulfan which had previously been identified as presenting a major hazard potential to aquatic organisms in this region. The atmospheric contributions of endosulfan were greater than previously observed in many other regions of the world where endosulfan was measured. Using the unique chemistry of this pesticide, they discovered that endosulfan volatilization from the fields, and not drift during application, was by far the most likely emission source to nearby Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. These data will be useful for regulators, extension specialists, and decision-makers in modifying agricultural management practices to protect sensitive ecosystems.

Review Publications
Guo, L., Maghirang, R., Razote, E., Trabue, S.L., Mcconnell, L.L. 2011. Concentrations of particulate matter in large cattle feedlots in Kansas. Journal of Air and Waste Management Association. 61:1025-1035.

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.

Nino De Guzman, G.T., Hapeman, C.J., Prabhakara, K., Codling, E.E., Shelton, D.R., Rice, C., Hively, W.D., Mccarty, G.W., Torrents, A. 2012. Potential pollutant sources in a Choptank River subwatershed: Influence of agricultural and residential land use and aqueous and atmospheric sources. Science of the Total Environment. 430:270-279.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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