Empirical Guide Lines

Further information: Interessengemeinschaft Geruch igG

Odour sensation might cause annoyance depending on the individual and sociological situation of a person. Local authorities especially seek procedures to cope with increasing complaints by neighbours. Therefore, some countries have already developed guidelines to address odour from livestock. These guidelines are in use to assess the necessary separation distance between livestock buildings as the source of odour and residential areas such that odour is not felt as an annoyance. They are mainly based on a simple parameterisation of the odour source, the dilution of the emission and the assessment of the protection level depending on the land use category. The application results in calculating a separation distance to the neighbourhood which guarantees a far-reaching protection against odour annoyance.



The Austrian guideline (Schauberger et al., 1997; Schauberger and Piringer, 1997a and 1997b) is based on a rough estimate of the source by the following parameters: number of farm animals, their use and the way they are kept, the geometry of the outlet air, the vertical velocity of the outlet air, the manipulation of manure inside the livestock building, the kind of manure storage and the way of feeding. As a result, the so-called odour number is calculated. Thereafter, the separation distance is estimated by a power function using an exponent of 0.5. Next, the dispersion of odour is assessed by modifying the separation distance. In the Austrian guideline, due to the mostly complex topography, this step is treated more substantially than elsewhere. The separation distance is first modified by using the mean distribution of the wind direction at the site characterizing the climatological situation and second by estimating the predominant local winds and stability (e.g. valley wind circulation) considering the local topography. At the end the legal claim of protection by the surrounding residential areas is additionally taken into account. The treatment of dispersion and legal claim of protection results in a final separation distance depending on the direction to the neighbours.

Vorläufige Richtlinie zur Beurteilung von Immissionen aus der Nutztierhaltung in Stallungen (German)
Preliminary guideline to assess pollution caused by by livestock husbandry in livestock buildings (English)

This guideline is avaiable from: Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft
Stubenring 1
A-1012 Wien
ÖsterreichStubenbastei 5, A 1010 Vienna

Piringer, M., Schauberger, G. 1999. Comparison of a Gaussian diffusion model with guidelines for calculating the separation distance between livestock farming and residential areas to avoid odour annoyance. Atmospheric Environment, 33, 2219–2228.
Schauberger, G., M. Piringer (1997a): Assessment of the protection distance to avoid annoyance by odour sensation caused by livestock husbandry by the Austrian guide line. In: Voermans J.A.M., G.J. Monteny (Eds): Ammonia and Odour Emission from Animal Production Facilities, NVTL, Rosmalen (1997)
Schauberger, G., M. Piringer (1997b): Guideline to assess the protection distance to avoid annoyance by odour sensation caused by livestock husbandry. In: Bottcher R.W., Hoff S.J. (Eds): Livestock Environment V, ASAE, St. Joseph, Michigan, 1997
Schauberger, G., M. Piringer, J. Eder, H. Fiebiger, M. Köck, R. Lazar, F. Pichler-Semmelrock, T. Quendler, M. Swoboda, G. Thiemann, J. Teufelhart (1997): Österreichische Richtlinie zur Beurteilung von Immissionen aus der Nutztierhaltung in Stallungen. Gefahrstoffe - Reinhaltung der Luft 57,10:399-408.


In Germany separate guidelines for pigs (VDI 3471, 1986), cattle (VDI 3473, 1994) and poultry (VDI 3472, 1986) are used. These three guidelines are well documented and described (Paduch, 1988).

In a first step, the odour source of a livestock farm is assessed by the number of livestock units (live mass of animals normalised by 500 kg). In a second step, the manure handling, the ventilation system, the type of feed and the topography of the site are evaluated by assigning scores to each category. The scores SC are summed up. For four different classes of total scores (a value of 100 for an excellent situation with low odour emission down to a value of 25 for high odour emission in steps of 25), the separation distances are fixed by graphs.

For pigs, the separation distance S (m) can be calculated by a power law as a function of the emission E (livestock unit LU, LU = body mass of the animals normalised by 500 kg) (CIGR, 1994) :

for a score of 100:  (1a)

for a score of 25:  (1b)

VDI 3471 (1986): Emissionsminderung Tierhaltung - Hühner, Berlin: Beuth.
VDI 3472 (1986) Emissionsminderung Tierhaltung - Schwein, Berlin: Beuth.
VDI 3473 (1994): Emissionsminderung Tierhaltung - Rinder, Berlin: Beuth.
VDI 3940 (1993): Bestimmung der Geruchsstoffimmission durch Begehungen. Berlin: Beuth.


In the Swiss guideline (Richner and Schmidlin, 1995), the pollution is assessed by the number of animals and a weighting factor which depends on the annoying potential of the kind of animals which are kept. The product of these two factors gives the odour load. The standard separation distance is calculated by a logarithmic function. It is modified by nine factors covering the shape of the site, the sea level, the manure handling system, the kind of manure which is produced, the cleanliness of the farm, nutrition, ventilation system and measures to abate odour release due to the ventilation system or the storage of manure.
In the Swiss guideline, the separation distance is calculated by a logarithmic function. This function, in its range of validity, can be fit to a power law whose exponent would be 0.33.

Richner, B. and A. Schmidlin (1995): Mindestabstände von Tierhaltungsanlagen. Empfehlungen für neue und bestehende Betriebe, Tänikon: Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Betriebswirtschaft und Landtechnik, FAT-Bericht 476.

The Netherlands

The separation distance is calculated as a function of pig fattening places (number of pigs the animal house is built for; Ministrie van Landbouw, 1991). For other species a conversion factor is defined in relation to a fattening pig. Additional parameters known from other guidelines already discussed are neglected. The graph of this guideline is fitted to a power function with an exponent of 0.50.

Ministrie van Landbouw (1991): Richtlijn Ammoniak en Veehouderij. Leidschendam: Ministrie van Landbouw, Naturbeheer en Visserij, Den Haag en Ministrie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer.


Empirical guide line, based on the Austrian guied line. Odor and air quality measurement, evaluation and control for agriculture - Purdue University - Interactive Setback Model [National Pork Producer Council  (NPPC) Project]

Heber AJ (1997) Setbacks for sufficient swine odor dispersion and dilution. Livestock and environmental Symposium, Univ Nebraska, USA
Heber AJ (1998) Setting a setback. National hog Farmer, Jan, 62-66.

Last modification: November 6, 2000 Webmaster