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Utah News

How Does Farming Impact Air Quality In Cache Valley?

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If you’ve ever spent time in Cache Valley during the winter, you’ve likely noticed the layer of pollution trapped in the air. 

Cows and cars are two of the primary culprits for this pollution you see on bad air days.  In Cache Valley, the most common pollutant is a chemical compound called ammonium nitrate.

Randy Martin is a Utah State University professor who researches air pollution in the Valley. 

“The agricultural community is responsible for almost all of the ammonia in our atmosphere," Martin said. "We can say that with a lot of confidence here in Cache Valley, because we've done lots and lots of measurements”

Vehicles are also a large part of the pollutants in the air.

“Whether they're ag related vehicles or just personal vehicles, they contribute," Martin said. "About 50% of our base pollutant in the Cache Valley. And by base pollutants, I mean, the pollutants that go on and form that nitrate side”

Jerod Berrett, a senior in dairy science at USU said, animal feed is one of the main way farmers have cut back on their greenhouse gas emotions. 

“In today's world, we've gotten a lot more efficient with our feeding and our animal care," said Berrett. "And so, we actually have, maybe livestock as a whole has well under 10% of the total emissions for pollution of greenhouse gases.”

And while air  quality experts recommend farmers feed their livestock a less protein rich diet, they also warn that farmers could see a decrease in product.