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Mobile Lab to Reduce Environmental Impact of Farms

6 December 2011, at 7:47am

SPAIN - The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker-Tecnalia, has set up a mobile environmental monitoring unit to assess in situ greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions on farms.

The results of the measurements will be used to evaluate the effect of Best Available Techniques (BAT) at farm level to reduce the environmental impact on the air and soil.

The initiative is co-funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme through the BATFARM European project.

The mobile laboratory is equipped with diverse equipment to take and keep samples into optimal conditions.

A photoacoustic gas analyser will be used to monitor in situ gas emissions. The mobile laboratory is going to work for one month in a pig farm near to Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country).

The effectiveness of various additives to mitigate ammonia and greenhouse gases will be assessed during slurry storage.

The project aims to estimate the environmental and economical efficiency of different environmental technologies which are implemented in swine, poultry and cattle farms located in the European Atlantic Area. Thus, five research centres and universities of the Atlantic Area are also involved in BATFARM project together with NEIKER-Tecnalia: Teagasc-The Agriculture and Food Development Authority- (Ireland), Cemagref (France), ITG Ganadero (Spain), University of Glasgow Caledonian (United Kingdom) and the Instituto Superior de Agronomía (Portugal).

The initiative, which is part of the Operational Programme for Transnational Cooperation in the Atlantic Area 2007-2013, is of particular interest since much of the animal husbandry is carried out through intensive pig, poultry and cattle farming models.

The intensive production model yields considerable economic returns but has numerous environmental problems, such as the release of pollutant gases (ammonia, nitrous oxide and methane) into the atmosphere, and the contamination of soil and water by nitrates. Once the project is over, the farmer will be able to choose those technologies that best fit their environmental requirements. In this respect, the members of the BATFARM project are currently developing a software to select the best environmental techniques.

In connection with the environmental problems coming from livestock production, the European Directive 96/61/EC is set out to regulate all emission forms into the atmosphere, water and soil coming from intensive livestock farms (farms with more than 40,000 hens, 2,000 fattening pigs or 750 breeding sows). Farms which are obliged to fulfill the 96/61/EC Directive will obtain the Integrated Environmental Authorisation if Best Available Techniques are applied on-farm.