16 April 2021

 

A new online tool has been launched in Wales to help farmers cut ammonia emissions.

The new Clean Air Tool, which sits on the Farming Connect website, gives practical advice on steps farmers can take to lower emissions.

Ammonia lost to the air is nitrogen lost for plant growth so improving air quality can bring real business benefits to a farming business, says Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes, which delivers Farming Connect on behalf of Welsh Government. 

“Introducing realistic changes to farming practices can be good for the environment and for business,’’ she says.

Among the measures covered by the tool are:

  • Methods of storing and spreading slurry and manure
  • Tips on spreading fertiliser
  • Changes to livestock diets
  • Housing considerations

Poor air quality is one of the biggest risks to the environment and to public health in Wales.

The tool has been developed in response to a commitment in the Welsh Government’s Clean Air Plan for Wales to give farmers up-to-date advice on how they can lower ammonia emissions.

Some farmers are already taking the initiative on ammonia emissions with support from Farming Connect.

At Wern Farm, a Farming Connect demonstration site near Welshpool, adding non-infective bacteria to the environment of hens in free range housing reduces ammonia levels.

Harmless strains of bacteria sourced from soil replace harmful bacteria in faeces, preventing uric acid being converted to ammonia.

Sensors have been installed throughout the shed as part of a Farming Connect project to measure ammonia and carbon dioxide levels as well as temperature and humidity; these activate automatic misters to spray non-infective bacteria at set times and when data collected identifies spikes.

Results to date show a 50% reduction on previous ammonia levels.

Another free range egg producer, Llyr Jones, has also been supported by Farming Connect in his quest to minimise the ammonia levels associated with expansion plans on his holding near Corwen.

During a Farming Connect Management Exchange Programme-funded study, Mr Jones learned how bird types with high feed efficiency can reduce ammonia generated.

Small changes in daily farming routines, such as mucking out hens daily rather than twice weekly, can help farmers reduce air pollution too, Mr Jones reported.

Farmers are being urged to use the Clean Air Tool to take steps towards a greener future.

The tool can be found here.

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.


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