Ecological Engineering

K-State researchers are leading research and development into issues central to environmental sustainability. Extramural funding allows researchers in BAE to collaborate with other scientists to address critical issues in air quality, climate change, military training lands sustainability, urban green design and watershed restoration.

  • Air quality – Large beef cattle feedlots in the Great Plains are faced with air quality challenges, including emissions of particulate matter, ammonia, odor, volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases. The K-State air quality team has been conducting field, laboratory and numerical research on air emissions from large cattle feedlots in Kansas to develop science-based information on air emission and cost-effective abatement measures for mitigating those emissions.
  • Water sustainability and climate change – Hydrologic factors are major drivers of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem response to climate change. K-State researchers developed a tool to temporally downscale global climate model projections while incorporating site-specific climate variability. Future work will refine statistical procedures and test impacts on critical ecosystem goods and services.
  • Military training lands sustainability – The Department of Defense faces the difficult challenge of managing ranges and training lands to meet mission requirements while ensuring their sustainable use for the operational demands of the future. Research focuses on data collection analysis methods, visualization tools and data delivery mechanisms for assessing training land condition and trends, and providing timely and meaningful information to guide decisions at the military installations.
  • The Urban Water Institute, established at K-State Olathe in 2011, brings BAE faculty together with over 30 other water experts from across K-State to meet the challenge of providing a secure water future for communities in Kansas and beyond. Through research and development, education and training, outreach and service, BAE faculty and the Institute promote water treatment technologies, management approaches and public policies that support sustainable water use in urban and urbanizing communities.
  • Watershed restoration – K-State researchers are developing modeling tools to facilitate water resource restoration and management. Data are used to test methods that simulate where ephemeral gullies (critical source of stream sediments) form and how much soil is eroded for a given set of storm, site, soil and surface conditions.

Research groups



Environmental laboratory

This laboratory is used for assessment of agricultural wastes, water quality and development of best management practices for natural resource protection. It has a state-of-the art Dionex DX- 600 ion chromatograph for analyzing micro- and macronutrients from soil and water samples, a Hewlett Packard HP-5890 Series II gas chromatograph with electron-capture (ECD) and flame-ionization (FID) detectors for pesticide and hydrocarbon analysis, and a Shimadzu SCL 10 A VP high-performance liquid chromatograph with a photo diode array detector and a fluorescence detector. The wet laboratory includes a chemical fume hood, 0ºC and 4ºC storage, a clean bench, pH and electrical conductivity probes, a Brookfield viscometer, and a 300ºC oven for sample preparation and bench-scale research. An analytical laboratory is available for sample analysis.

Air quality laboratory

The Air Quality Laboratory supports the research and teaching missions of the BAE department in agricultural air quality and related areas. Current research includes characterization, control and modeling of air emissions from large cattle feedlots; environmental applications of nanotechnology; fugitive dust emissions from military activities; and grain handling and storage. The laboratory is equipped with conventional and specialized instruments for sampling and/or measuring particulate matter concentrations, particle size distribution, gas concentration, flow rates and velocities, and meteorological parameters, among others. Major pieces of equipment include tapered-element oscillating microbalance particulate monitors, high-volume and mini-volume particulate samplers, Aerodynamic Particle Sizer™ spectrometer, Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer™ spectrometer, micro-orifice uniform deposit impactors, optical particle spectrometer, FTIR spectrometer, Chemiluminescence ammonia analyzer, Chemcassette ammonia detector, gas chromatographs, aerosol generator, multi-pycnometer, microbalances and weather stations.