Applications open for Dutch ammonia solutions study trip

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture is offering 16 dairy farmers the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands to learn about how the country’s farmers have found innovative ways to reduce ammonia emissions.

The three-day study tour will run from June 11 until June 13, 2019, and will focus on the latest developments in dairy nutrition, housing, slurry storage and slurry application methods to reduce ammonia emissions.

Programme

Planned visits include several progressive dairy farms that have implemented the latest technologies to control ammonia as well as a tour of the Leeuwaren Dairy Campus Research Centre, where researchers have led pioneering studies into lowering emissions.

The programme will also include a talk by a dairy nutritionist as well as a visit to a leading manufacturer of slurry application equipment.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), 94% of Northern Ireland’s ammonia emissions are from agriculture with a large proportion within that coming from dairy farms.

The UK has signed up to targets to reduce ammonia emissions so a spokesman warned it would likely become a “very important area” for the future of the industry in Northern Ireland, and one which will shape future investment decisions.

Already, ammonia has caused delays in the planning process in Northern Ireland as officials clamp down on emissions.

However, the issue is not unique to home. Over the last 20 years, the dairy industry in the Netherlands has been highly successful with innovating and producing practical solutions.

It’s hoped that hearing directly from Dutch farmers will help participants to better understand the issue and consider how to improve nutrient efficiency on their own farms.

How to apply

The study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The group will leave from Belfast International Airport on the morning of June 11 and return on June 13 in the evening. The tour will be led by CAFRE advisers George Mathers and Alan Agnew.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of the farm business who is at least 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education.

To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. 16 places are available, which will be allocated on a competitive basis.

Those interested in participating in this study tour can find out more details and complete an online application at: https://www.cafre.ac.uk/industry-support/farm-innovation-visits/.

Applications open on Wednesday, May 1 and close at 4:00pm on Wednesday, May 15.

The Farm Innovation Visit scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part-funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit – such as accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, breakfast, lunch and evening meals when in the Netherlands.