Potential odors from a livestock operation are not limited to waste impoundments. Other sources include buildings (e.g., housing units and milking parlors), open lots, the animals themselves, and operational activities, such as agitation and land application. When developing recommendations for minimizing odor, all sources must be dealt with effectively. This section describes AWMS odors and their impact assessment in general terms. However, the planning considerations given are limited to waste impoundments.
Assessment of the potential for offensive odor impact from an AWMS is complex. Several factors account for this complexity. Odors from an AWMS vary in intensity, frequency, and duration depending on time of year, time of day, weather conditions, and management activities underway. Physiographic characteristics of the site, including such items as topography, vegetation, and cultural features, can also affect the potential for impact. These characteristics interact to vary the distance to which odors may have an impact. Social factors, described in detail later in this section, also add significantly to the potential for odors to have an impact. All of these factors must be assessed in planning an AWMS and associated waste impoundments. Consider as many of the interacting factors as each individual situation necessitates.
The first planning consideration for minimizing the impact of odors from waste impoundments is choosing the best site possible. This siting will maximize separation distance and use prevailing wind direction, topography, buildings, and vegetative screens to direct and dissipate odors. See Chapter 8, Siting Agricultural Waste Management Systems, for more details on siting to minimize odors.
Assessment of the social factors related to odors is difficult because of the varied human response to odors. Odor sensation is a personal response. Odor is not observed by individuals with equal sensitivity nor is there always agreement among individuals as to whether an odor is objectionable when detected. Individuals respond differently to odors primarily because of variations of background. For example, someone raised in an urban setting would observe an odor from an AWMS differently than someone raised in a rural setting.
The social factors to consider in determining the extent that measures must be taken to minimize odors are related to who the owner or operator is, who the neighbors are, and the nature of the community in which the AWMS is located. Odors from an enterprise owned and operated by a person who has a longstanding presence in the community are more likely to be tolerated than a similar enterprise owned and operated by a newcomer, if local experience to the farm has been positive. Less likely to be tolerated would be a newly established, large enterprise owned and managed by someone who does not live on the farm. Odors that affect neighbors with similar enterprises are more likely to be tolerated. For example, odors from a dairy that is located in a rural area surrounded by other similar sized dairy farms would probably be tolerated. However, odors from a livestock operation that is much larger than the majority of neighboring farms and not considered to be part of the farming community may not be tolerated. An example would be a large corporate farm in the midst of smaller family farms.
Less tolerant of odors would be neighbors who have dissimilar enterprises, especially non-odor producing enterprises. An example is a hog operation located in a predominately corn growing area. A type of rural neighbor that would be even less tolerant of odors would be those who have migrated to the country from urban areas. Often people with this background have moved to the country for the fresh air and not necessarily to make a living. This neighbor, in all likelihood, would be less tolerant of odors, especially if they are intense and drawn-out. Those living in adjacent urban communities will generally not tolerate odors that they perceive to be objectionable regardless of intensity or duration.
An evaluation that would include, but not be limited to the following factors should be considered in determining the recommendations for minimizing AWMS odors:
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