£3m scheme aims to crack down on ammonia pollution from farms

18 September, 2018 - 13:09
Dairy cattle were responsible for 28% of the UK's agricultural ammonia emissions in 2016, according to Defra. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dairy cattle were responsible for 28% of the UK's agricultural ammonia emissions in 2016, according to Defra. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

A £3m new government scheme to help farmers cut ammonia pollution has been welcomed by industry leaders in East Anglia.

The funding will pay for a team of specialists who will work with farmers and landowners to reduce emissions of the gas, which can be released into the atmosphere from agricultural sources like slurry or other rotting farm waste and fertiliser.

Defra says agriculture is responsible for 88pc of all UK emissions of ammonia, which can be damaging to the environment and combine with other pollutants to form particulates which are harmful to human health.

The new team will provide training events, tailored advice, individual farm visits and support with grant applications, all funded by the programme launched by the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership – comprising Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Bob Middleton, programme manager for Catchment Sensitive Farming, said: “As custodians of the land, farmers have an important role to play in protecting the environment. But reducing ammonia emissions can also bring real business benefits.

“The UK loses £138m of nitrogen per year from ammonia emissions, so by taking action to reduce them, farmers can get more value from their manure and fertiliser and save money.”

The new initiative adds to the existing advice programmes to improve water quality and prevent flooding from farmed land, and a new guidance video which sets out simple steps all farmers can take to reduce ammonia emissions, such as the way they handle livestock feed, and manure and fertiliser spreading.

Cambridgeshire farmer Tim Breitmeyer, who is president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said: “Farmers and landowners play a unique and crucial role in protecting and enhancing the environment, both through expert management of the land and also by reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

“The industry is working hard to reduce ammonia emissions and we welcome the support this new programme will provide to ensure the environmental impact is reduced while not compromising productive output.”

READ MORE: Farmers must prepare for government crackdown on ammonia pollution ‘before the carrot turns into a stick’

The specialist team will aim to implement measures set out in the new Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) for Reducing Ammonia Emissions.

Reducing farming pollution is also a key element of the government’s new Clean Air Strategy, which set targets for cutting emissions of ammonia by 8pc by 2020 and by 16pc by 2030.

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