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Stephen F. Austin State studies native trees that could improve air around poultry farms

Sarah Fuller

Environmental science research underway at Stephen F. Austin State University is investigating some native trees and shrubs that could provide a natural control for the ammonia waste byproduct emitted from poultry farms.

SFA researchers are evaluating six species of trees: American holly, Arizona cypress, arborvitae, Eastern red cedar, yaupon holly and roughleaf dogwood.

A grove of more than 200 trees was planted near SFA’s poultry farm in Nacogdoches. Environmental science graduate student Marife Anunciado is gathering data every day in the field and in a controlled greenhouse where the same experiment is happening by injecting ammonia into a chamber.

“It looks good. It looks cool when you see a poultry farm with some green in front of it. Aside from making it beautiful, our priority is to ensure that emissions from the poultry farm don’t go farther,” Anunciado said, who is currently working fulltime on the project through SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

The three-year grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service is under the direction of Sheryll Jerez, an associate professor of environmental science. For the rest of the year, she’ll be monitoring data collected on how well the leaves absorb ammonia and trees’ physiological responses to toxins. Jerez expects to publish results next year. She wants tree groves to be a viable option for poultry farmers as they work to meet federal guidelines on waste byproduct emissions.

“I’m hopeful that they will be receptive to this [natural] technology, especially because the investment isn’t as high as compared to adopting another technology,” Jerez said.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to create a brochure for poultry farmers based on the research findings, according to Jerez. The study also will calculate an air pollution tolerance index for the trees used in this experiment.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.