A Purdue University team, led by Jiqin (JQ) Ni, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research to tackle the lack of air-quality data in pork production. The initiative, in collaboration with the National Pork Board, aims to document air-quality issues surrounding swine production, particularly focusing on particulate matter.
Particulate matter, especially at high concentrations, poses health risks to both workers and animals, as well as neighboring communities. The exact concentrations of such matter within and outside swine barns at different times are poorly understood due to a lack of appropriate measurement technology, according to Ni, a professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
Ni is joined by collaborators Jae Hong Park, assistant professor in the school of health sciences, and Brian Richert, associate professor of animal sciences. Park, a certified industrial hygienist, will develop a sensor station equipped with air-quality sensors to monitor particulate matter and gases generated in swine barns. Richert, specializing in swine nutrition and management, will design the test environment to operate under controlled conditions.
Existing technologies for measuring particulate matter are expensive, difficult to operate, and slow to produce results. Ni’s team aims to develop a low-cost, responsive, and easy-to-use technology tailored for agriculture and livestock use. The initiative involves carefully selecting particulate matter sensing units, developing sensor units combined with software and solar power supply, and conducting tests in controlled environments at Purdue University and commercial swine farms in Indiana and Ohio.
The project’s outcomes are expected to have applications not only in swine production but also in poultry and other livestock housing, as well as in handling powders in the food industry.
Overall, this grant-funded project seeks to bridge the knowledge gap in air-quality data in swine production, offering potential benefits for both the industry and surrounding communities.