Planting Trees to Kill Bad Odors and Reduce Emissions

tree-ringed poultry farms photo

Image from the George W. Malone

You already know them as nature's lungs. But its deodorant, too? That is the conclusion of new research done by George Malone, a poultry specialist at the University of Delaware, who found that planting trees around poultry farms helped to significantly cut their emissions and odors.

Three rows of trees were enough to reduce emissions of dust and ammonia by 56% and 53%, respectively; they also helped kill 18% of the odors. These benefits also translated into lower energy bills for the farms, Malone said, by increasing shade and cooling during the summer and by lowering heating costs during the winter.

chicken farm photo

Image from Katie@!
Trees as "vegetative" filters
The idea behind planting the trees was to create a natural, vegetative filter that could trap many of the emissions before they reached residents living near the farms. In 2000, many farms in the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Virgina and Maryland switched to new ventilation systems, causing much more dust and odors to waft out to the surrounding communities.

In an effort to mitigate these externalities, which were worsening the ambient air and water quality, Malone and his team embarked on a 6-year project to examine the ability of various tree species to filter the smells and particulates. After some initial trial and error, they found that only a particular combination of trees achieved the optimal results: one row of deciduous trees (because of their waxy leaves) nearest the fans and two rows of evergreens. Applying this natural filtration strategy to other regions would require different combinations, based on the particular climate and soil types, Malone said.

Less noise, fewer emissions and odors and better water quality
In addition to blocking out odors and emissions, the trees also helped reduce noise and, more important, improved the area's water quality by filtering pollutants from soil and groundwater. Sounds like a win-win-win strategy to us!

Via ::ScienceDaily: Trees Kill Odors And Other Emissions From Poultry Farms (news website)

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