I read your story about the Facebook post regarding the family that was interrupted at dinner time by the smell of ammonia (“I can’t believe that Facebook post, but I don’t know how to respond”).
First, the story keeps referring to the “spraying” of ammonia by the farmer in the field behind their home. Ammonia is the vapor that is released in the air during the application of NH3 or commonly referred to as “anhydrous ammonia,” which is a form of nitrogen fertilizer used for growing corn.
The application of NH3 is by injection into the ground via a knife with a hose attached and should be about 8-10 inches deep. Done properly, this accepted practice is safe and does not give off the smell of ammonia.
The term “spraying” was used exclusively in the story and this form of NH3 is NOT sprayed. My guess is there was some type of malfunction of the equipment or the method of application. The farmer in the tractor was probably in an enclosed cab and did not know of any issues.
Second, I disagree with all five suggested responses to the family involved.
If I were a farmer and lived nearby, I would search out the farmer involved and have a conversation with him about the Facebook post and attempt to set up a meeting with the homeowner. It’s critical that the farmer be approached first to get his reaction before bringing the two together to avoid any confrontation. Maybe it was an employee of the farmer and he surely would be interested in knowing.
I believe the five examples would be overpowering the homeowner with farmer opinion of agriculture rather than addressing why the ammonia smell occurred in the first place.
I do believe that farmers need to do a more thorough job of educating the urban dweller, as most of these people are second or third generation removed from the farm and have little knowledge of today’s farming practices.