Comparing results from different scenarios can help the producer highlight any unintended consequences where a mitigation measure to reduce one component may inadvertently increase another concern, Auvermann said.
For instance, if a producer elects to install a sprinkler system for dust control, the tool will show a decrease in dust potential but an increase in the potential for emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, he said.
The team designed the tool to provide information and education only. It is not intended to provide emissions data and/or regulatory guidance, according to the website.
The report generated by the tool cannot be used to compare one livestock facility to another and the information remains the private property of the operator, Auvermann said. No data is stored on either the operation or the individual.
“One of the things we hope to do with this tool is forestall regulatory requirements,” he said. “This is a tool for the progressive livestock and poultry producers interested in voluntary environmental stewardship efforts. Voluntary self-assessment and attentive management are the best ways to keep the government regulations at bay.”
The project team also recently has begun a new three-year effort to update and improve the tool.
“We’re always learning something new,” Auvermann said. “We want the latest, best science at the public’s disposal.”