NPA: Newer high-tech farm infrastructure could tackle agricultural ammonia

The UK’s pig sector body has told the Government that newer, more efficient buildings could be the key to reducing ammonia emissions from British pig farms.

In its response to Defra’s consultation on its Clean Air Strategy, the National Pig Association (NPA) said that indoor environmentally-controlled pig buildings are able to deliver reduced ammonia loss.

Better housing could include better ventilation – including scrubbers and biofilters – as well as slurry cooling and acidification systems, enclosed slurry storage, and low emission manure spreading techniques.

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.”

The response read: “One of the key barriers to further improving productivity and health and welfare on farms lies with the continued use of old animal housing for modern methods of husbandry and animal genetics.

According to a survey of the condition of pig buildings conducted in 2012, the average age of pig accommodation in use at that time in England was 21-22 years old, and, of greater concern, 51% were more than 20 years old.

“Newer buildings are far more environmentally efficient, requiring less energy, whilst creating fewer ammonia or odour emissions.

“Modern pig buildings or improvements to existing sites where appropriate have been proven to dramatically impact how pigs are produced.”

High build costs

The NPA said it would “strongly support” measures that help incentivise investment in new buildings – such as loan schemes or tax incentives.

“Other countries have, in the past, offered grant funding towards new buildings that meet certain criteria relating to emissions or energy efficiency,” the statement added.

“Grants already exist under the Growth Programme that typically has provided a percentage (often 40%) of costs, capped at £250,000; however, many pig building and core infrastructure costs are often in excess of this.”