Auvermann honored with prestigious engineering society award

Photo of Dr. Brent AuvermannDr. Brent Auvermann has been selected by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers as the G.B. Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award winner for 2013, according to Darrin Drollinger, executive director for the organization.

Initiated in 1975, the award was endowed by the family of the society’s Life Fellow, G.B. Gunlogson, who was the founder of The Countryside Development Foundation Inc. in Racine, Wis. The prestigious award is presented annually to honor outstanding engineering contributions to the development and improvement of the countryside, Drollinger said.

Auvermann is a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University, with a dual appointment in both the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He will accept his award during the organization’s annual international meeting July 21-24 in Kansas City, Mo.

“Dr. Auvermann is recognized by his colleagues, commodity leaders, state and federal agencies, and livestock producers for his subject matter expertise, practical common sense approach to solving complex air quality issues, and helpful AgriLife Extension outreach education programs,” said Dr. Dana Porter, a department associate professor and AgriLife Extension engineering specialist in Lubbock.

Auvermann is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in environmental system engineering applied to concentrated animal feeding operations. His research and Extension emphasis is on air quality emissions and abatement, nutrient management, manure as biofuel feedstock and large animal carcass composting, Porter stated in her nomination. His primary research focus is with open-lot cattle feedlots and dairies.

According to his award citation, Auvermann is an out-of-the-box thought leader when it comes to dealing with the beef cattle-feeding industry’s environmental issues. His approach is to develop an understanding of “first principles,” from which he develops mathematically driven hypotheses, formula models and experimental protocols as a basis for planning and conducting field research.

A primary focus of his research since 2002 has been continuous monitoring of cattle feedlot dust to unlock the physical and atmospheric secrets of the “evening dust peak.” To date, he has collected one of the world’s largest data repositories from in-field continuous monitoring of dust from three commercial cattle feedlots.

In the area of biofuels, Auvermann’s research team has developed non-destructive methods for estimating the fuel value of cattle feedlot manure. These new tests can be applied days before the manure is actually harvested, loaded and transported to a bioenergy plant, which could save a manure-fired bioenergy plant millions of dollars annually in improved fuel-heating value and reduced ash-disposal costs.

Auvermann is a sought-after speaker at conferences throughout North America, and serves as a research partner with faculty/scientists in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Minnesota, New Mexico and Alberta, Canada.

He was an architect of the Strategic Plan on Environmental Systems Research and Extension national programs. He served as co-author of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Issue Paper, “Air Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A North American Perspective,” and co-chaired the International Livestock Air Quality Conference in Colorado in 2007.

Since 2008, he has served on the national Extension team that produced the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service funded web-based tool National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool for beef, dairy, swine and poultry operations.

He devised engineering-based procedures for site-specific scoring across all species and provided detailed technical guidance to the beef team in the design and implementation of the feedyard site assessment tool. This teaching and learning tool is well received by producers and educators seeking to understand how location, manure management and environmental conditions of confined animal operations impact air quality, Porter said.

In 2009, he chaired the program committee for the Texas Animal Manure Management Issues Conference, attended by top producers, commodity group executives, consultants and regulatory agency personnel from Texas and surrounding states.

As a result of his expertise in mitigation techniques for controlling dust from cattle feedyard surfaces, he was the primary technical advisor to USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service engineers in Texas during the design and implementation of the Atmospheric Resource Quality Management initiative for cattle feedlot under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Auvermann also led a multi-state Extension and research team that provided detailed technical review of dairy environmental regulations proposed by the New Mexico Water Quality Conservation Commission and the New Mexico Environment Department. In 2008-2009, he served as the primary technical advisor to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Pinal County Air Quality Control District during the design of a Beneficial Management Practices standard for open-lot cattle feedyards and dairies.

He co-moderated a 2010 national workshop for standardized reporting of air emissions from livestock and poultry operations, jointly sponsored by the EPA and the USDA Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality.  He currently serves on the USDA National Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Livestock and Poultry. In 2012, he was named to an EPA Science Advisory Board expert panel to review EPA’s methodology for estimating air emissions from animal feeding operations.