The key to reducing ammonia emissions and improving air quality on pig farms is to promote investment in newer, more efficient buildings, according to the NPA.
That was the core message in the association’s response to Defra’s consultation on its Clean Air Strategy. The consultation, which reached across the economy, made a number of recommendations for agriculture, including developing a national code of good agricultural practice to reduce ammonia emissions and regulating to reduce ammonia emissions from farming. The document also proposed to support farmers in various to reduce emissions.
In its response, the NPA welcomed the proposed package of actions, specifically provision of support to facilitate investment in farm infrastructure and equipment to reduce emissions and the continued work to ensure the ammonia inventory reflects existing farm practice and the latest evidence on emissions.
You can read the NPA’s response here
“When considering air quality and ammonia in particular; indoor environmentally controlled pig buildings are able to deliver reduced losses, not only through diet formulation, but also ventilation, including scrubbers and bio filters, slurry cooling and/or acidification, slurry storage and manure spreading techniques,” the NPA response stated.
“Furthermore, some are environmentally permitted and have to apply production systems and techniques which are proven to reduce emissions of ammonia to the atmosphere. These are detailed in the European Commission’s Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference document (BREF)1 which describes management practices, housing systems and techniques that minimise emissions and environmental impact.
“These have to be employed when planning new pig housing and slurry storage facilities on permitted installations. The challenge of improving air quality and mitigating climate change is best met by modern indoor environmentally controlled buildings, good practice and advances in efficiency and technology.”
To improve environmental efficiency and mitigate climate change, the industry must improve its productivity and continue to control and reduce our emissions wherever possible, the document added.
But one of the key barriers to further improving productivity and health and welfare on farms is the continued use of old animal housing for modern methods of husbandry and animal genetics. A 2012 survey showed the average age of pig accommodation in use at that time in England was 21-22 years, while more than half were over 20 years old.
The response included a case study showing how modern pig buildings or improvements to existing sites have dramatically improved performance on farm.
It also outlined the NPA’s support for measures that will help incentivise investment in new buildings such as loan schemes or via tax incentives and noted that other countries have, in the past, offered grant funding towards new buildings that meet certain criteria relating to emissions or energy efficiency.
NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson, who put the NPA response together, said: “The overarching message is that newer more efficient buildings and infrastructure will have the biggest impact on our environmental efficiency and ammonia emissions, and similarly our efficiency of production, enabling us to produce more from less and further helping to reduce emissions.”