Ammonia emissions from pig farming have decreased by 83 percent in thirty years

Ammonia emissions from pig farming fell by 83 percent between 1990 and 2020. No other sector has achieved such a significant reduction in ammonia emissions, concludes Wageningen Economic Research (WER), which published emissions at the end of November.

Final figures for ammonia emissions from pig manure for 2020 show that these are 0.7 million kilograms lower than in 2019. This is a result of fewer pigs due to the subsidy scheme to restructure pig farms. Between 1990 and 2020, the overall reduction in ammonia emissions from pig manure was 83 percent.

“We’re proud of that,” says Linda Ferrett, president of the Pig Breeding Producers’ Organization. The pig farming industry is constantly evolving. Reducing emissions has always been a topic on which we have taken steps. Ferret mentions the use of low-emission, low-emission stables, air purifiers and a reduction in nitrogen excretion for each animal.

Reducing ammonia emissions in pig farming reaches the limits of what is technically possible. “We see our challenges for the future through an integrated approach to all subjects,” says Ferret. It mentions ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions, but also mentions reducing odors and particulate matter, while preserving animal welfare.

Ferret: But there is tension and negative association in different subjects. Consider, for example, fine particles and animal welfare. environment and animal welfare. The options should be. We can’t get 10 all over the place.

Cows also have low emissions of ammonia

Ammonia emissions in beef cattle were 6 percent lower in 2020 than in 2019. Reductions in the number of animals in beef cattle also accounted for lower ammonia emissions. Due to the reduction in the number of suckling, fattening, pasture and other cattle, ammonia emissions for this class of animals have almost halved, from 4.5 million kilograms to 2.4 million kilograms in 2019.

The result of increasing pink veal calves and decreasing grazing cow numbers has ensured that in 2020, total ammonia emissions from beef cattle will be 7 percent higher than in 2010.

At 11 million kilograms, ammonia emissions from poultry manure in 2020 were about the same as in 2019. Between 1990 and 2000, ammonia emissions from poultry manure decreased mainly because of low-emission use. Since 2010, almost all poultry manure produced is processed or exported.

Low emission stables

Ammonia emissions from broiler manure from stables and storage have decreased since 2005 due to lower nitrogen excretion per animal and lower emission stables. Low-emission stables for laying hens have also been introduced. As this was accompanied at the same time that the keeping of animals in battery housing was prohibited, ammonia emissions from the stables increased.

Due to fewer laying hens and breeders, ammonia emissions from stables and storage facilities decreased by 6 percent in 2020 and 2019 compared to 2018. As a result of the tightening of application standards, from 2010 almost no poultry manure will be applied in the Netherlands, which will be exported or processed.

Higher emissions than dairy cows

At more than 51 million kilograms, ammonia emissions from dairy manure were almost 15 percent higher than in 2010 than in 2020. This is partly because there are more animals, but mainly because there is more nitrogen excreted per animal per year. After a period of increase between 2010 and 2017, ammonia emissions fell somewhat in 2018 and 2019, before rising again in 2020.

Between 1990 and 2000, ammonia emissions fell sharply due to the reduced use of emissions from manure. This is mainly due to the policy that all slurry and solid manure must be applied to arable land in a low emission manner. Ammonia emissions from grazing also fell over that period by 80 percent. This is due to the decrease in nitrogen fertilization and the number of cows.

More animals

Ammonia emissions increased again between 2010 and 2017 due to more animals and more nitrogen excretion per animal per year. In 2020, ammonia emissions from dairy manure primarily stemmed from emissions during manure use (44 percent), emissions from stables and storage (54 percent), and, to a very limited extent, emissions from grazing and manure processing (2 percent). .

Provisional emissions figures show that ammonia emissions in 2021 will be about 2 percent lower than in 2020. The reason given is a decrease in the number of animals.

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