Agriculture acts to reduce emissions

Friday, 26 April 2019

Tough new Clean Air Strategy targets are spurring farmers and growers to develop more practices to cut ammonia emissions and reduce the industry’s environmental footprint, further.

A combination of innovative and simple techniques may help the industry find equilibrium between greater food production to feed a growing population and capturing emissions, which are a by-product of production processes.

To help drive change, The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is working with a host of organisations on a number of projects, including training initiatives with Catchment Sensitive Farming and contributing to the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Reducing Ammonia Emissions**, as well as sector specific good practice guides.

And it says it is seeing the industry react.

“From our unique vantage point we can see innovation occurring in British farming and it should be applauded. It shows the world-class industry we have and demonstrates just how seriously the industry is taking the emissions challenges,” said David Ball, AHDB’s Environment and Buildings Senior Manager.

“Farmers and growers are already looking at technologies to aid the control of slurry temperature and pH levels, to target manure application into the land with injection and covering slurry stores to reduce emissions.”

Work has been ongoing because the UK has already committed to legally binding international targets to reduce its emissions by 8 per cent by 2020, and 16 per cent by 2030.

David added: “It doesn’t matter if you choose to eat meat or vegetables – ammonia emissions are a by-product of food production. It’s about finding a balance between environmental impact, producing food at affordable prices and optimising the productivity of the land.

“When converted to nitrogen in fertiliser, ammonia is estimated to support food production for approximately half of the global population*, improving crop yields and making the land more productive. As the population has grown, its emissions have in turn increased. We must not forget that as we work to hit our emissions targets.”

Within the Clean Air Strategy, the government has additionally committed to a new target to reduce deposition of reactive forms of nitrogen by 17 per cent over England’s protected sites by 2030, and review what longer term targets should be.

For more information on AHDB and environmental work, visit ahdb.org.uk/the-environment.

Ammonia and nutrient information for specific agricultural and horticultural sectors is available on AHDB’s sectoral websites.

* Source – Our World Data https://ourworldindata.org/how-many-people-does-synthetic-fertilizer-feed

** Link to good practice guide - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-good-agricultural-practice-for-reducing-ammonia-emissions