Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Plan ahead to meet new ammonia rules

October 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

Livestock farmers are being encouraged to consider how their businesses could be affected by new legislation to curtail ammonia emissions from agriculture.

Beef and dairy farmers are among those most likely to be affected by proposed regulations, believes Tom Gill, head of environment at Promar International. A proactive approach is key to meeting any change successfully, he says.

The government’s recent announcement that it intends to introduce stricter controls on livestock housing, fertiliser and slurry and manure management may have left some farmers feeling uncertain about the future sustainability of their businesses, says Mr Gill.

Potential benefits

But he adds: “Given that the proposed regulations are mostly focused on the enforcement of best practice – which many farmers are already implementing to improve efficiency on-farm – they are therefore in a good position to reap the potential benefits on offer.”

Agriculture accounts for some 80% of the UK’s ammonia emissions. And with manure and slurry applications accounting for 25% of agricultural ammonia emissions, all slurry and digestate will need to be applied using low-emission spreading equipment by 2027.

“The good news is that many farmers are ahead of the game and are already spreading slurry in such a way to maximise the additional benefits such as increased nitrogen value,” explains Mr Gill.

Using a trailing hose to apply slurry, for example, can increase the nitrogen value by approximately three units per 1,000 gallons. This can help save money on feed and bedding as it allows for a quicker return to grazing.

Beyond best practice, the proposed regulations are likely to mean a significant investment in on-farm infrastructure. That is because the target date for slurry and digestate stores to be covered is 2027 and few farms currently cover stores.

Farmers are going to have to make financial investments in order to comply, says Mr Gill. “I’d recommend that they take time to understand the new legislation, particularly when developing both short and long-term business plans because this will help ensure farms are one step ahead.”

The industry should take responsibility to help drive change, he adds.

“The new legislation will be daunting for many producers; however, I think it’s a challenge that as an industry we should embrace. I believe that careful planning is key to maximising the available opportunities and minimising the potential impacts on business sustainability.”

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