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Courtesy of Checchogs:

01 October 2001 :
Engineers seek to make odorous oinkers smell sweet
 
MICHIGAN - The odors on swine farms can be a problem not only for farmers, but for the public as well. Agricultural engineers at MSU are hoping to do something about it.
 
 
A group of researchers are searching for ways to eliminate these pungent odors. And to catch the culprits, they have to go straight to the source - manure.
 
The project, which is funded by the Animal Agriculture Initiative, will identify all the odorous compounds in swine manure.
 
Simon Davies, an agricultural engineer at MSU, said there may be anywhere from 10 to 20 individual compounds in the manure. The odors will be separated and then categorized for further research.
 
"Swine odors form problems for farms in Michigan," Davies said. "It’s the most common form of litigation against farmers."
 
He said the odors also contribute to urban sprawl, because people are moving away from the smell of swine farms.
 
The major groups of odorous compounds include sulfur compounds, alcohols and fatty acids. The compounds are formed as the manure decomposes and others are emitted from the hog when manure is excreted.
 
Davies said the compounds will be collected and identified using gas mass spectrometry and gas olfactometry.
 
"The mass spectrometer just takes the compound and breaks it up, giving us a fingerprint," he said. "Olfactometry is just a fancy word for sniffing.
 
"As the compounds come together, it’s hard to target technologies to eliminate them. This research is to reduce the issues and make the smell much sweeter."
 
Maynard Hogberg, chairman of the Department of Animal Science, said this has been an ongoing process and it effects not only farmers, but industry as well.
 
"This is a joint effort between faculty and industries to find out what is needed to make farms environmentally and economically friendly," she said.
 
One process that has been looked into a possible way to eliminate odor is to alter the diet of the swines.
 
Nathalie Trottier, an assistant professor of animal science, works with swine metabolism and said some changes have been made to help eliminate swine odors.
 
"The regular diet includes corn and soybean mix," she said. "There are also vitamins and minerals added."
 
Trottier said they’re lowering the amount of proteins and carbohydrates in the diet to see if that has any effect.
 
"Researching the issues to possibly decrease odors includes finding other food ingredients with low carbohydrates for the future." she said.
 
Source: Michigan State University - September 2001
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