Everyone has a unique reaction to odors but livestock odors are almost universally accepted as annoying and unpleasant. However, farm owners, who to varying degrees are anoxic to the smells on the farm, will find the odor much more tolerable than their friends from town who don’t have the same affiliation with and exposure to the farm odor. An Odor Management Plan (OMP) can help farmers assess the situation on their land and find solutions to the odor issue.
There are three reasons livestock farmers write an OMP:
- Odor management plans are a proactive step indicating the farm owner’s or manager’s concern for the farm’s rural neighbors.
- The farm has a history of odor concerns and either on their own, or at the request of a responding government agency, the farm management develops an OMP to identify odor sources and possible control practices.
- An OMP may be a required addition to a local or state permit application or site verification request for a new or expanding livestock operation.
Writing an OMP should provide an accurate analysis of the current farm status and provide direction in the event of future odor concerns or complaints. But developing an OMP should not be a challenging, time consuming experience. Michigan State University Extension has developed the OMP Template using an Excel spreadsheet. The template uses scroll-down boxes, embedded calculations and designate cells for user input to guide users through the development of the OMP. You can find these resources here.
OMPs should consider five factors that impact odor or the perception of odor, including:
- Identifying the farm’s major odor sources
- Determining the magnitude of odor from each source
- Identifying current and potential odor control practices
- Establishing a plan for monitoring farm odors
- Establishing a strategy for maintaining and enhancing community relations
Identifying major odor sources
Farm odors are emitted from three obvious sources; animal housing, manure storage and land application. While these three management categories are the areas of greatest concern other sources, if left unaccounted for, have the potential to make significant contributions to overall farm odor. The potential odors from temporary field stacking, stored feeds, the feed processing area and mortality handling also need to be addressed in the OMP.
Determining the magnitude of each odor source
The Minnesota Odors From Feedlots Setback Estimation Tool (OFFSET) provides resources for evaluating the magnitude of odors from animal housing and manure storage structures. Other factors contributing to total farm odor are evaluated using a “High,” “Medium” and “Low” designation based on the evaluation conducted by the person writing the OMP.