The History Channel will feature Penn State research on farm fields

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Penn State Extension field demonstration of technology designed to reduce odors and nutrient losses from agricultural fields will be a featured segment on the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" program. The episode, titled "Stink," will premiere at 10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, on the History Channel's H2 network. The program also can be viewed online at

According to the network's website, the program will look at the science of odors -- "from cesspools, military stink bombs and rancid rotting meat to cow farms and landfills" -- and will answer the question, "So how do we deal with these horrific odors?"

A crew from the History Channel shot footage and interviews at an August 2011 event near Mercersburg sponsored by Penn State Extension, according to Jennifer Bratthauar, agronomy and nutrient management extension educator based in Franklin County.

The field demonstration highlighted technology that allows farmers to inject and incorporate liquid manure into the soil. Research has shown that this method can keep manure nutrients from running off in surface water, where they can contaminate streams, rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Manure injection also minimizes emission of volatile molecules such as ammonia into the air, thereby reducing odors and atmospheric deposition of nutrients into lakes and streams. In addition, the practice conserves nutrients that are costly for farmers to bring onto the farm.

The demonstration took place on 5 Star Farms, owned by Garry and Vicki Martin, of Mercersburg, Pa. Seth Martin, a commercial manure hauler/applicator, demonstrated the manure-injection system, and a team led by Robin Brandt, Penn State lecturer in agricultural and biological engineering, used olfactory equipment to measure odors produced by the process.

To learn more about Penn State manure injection research, go to online. For more information on Penn State's Odor Assessment Laboratory, go to and /video/152378/2013/02/08/video-no-title (video) online.

Last Updated January 24, 2012