• Amy Turner

Clean Air Strategy 2018 - plan to reduce ammonia emissions

Farms will face new restrictions on spreading manure and slurry under the government’s “world-leading” plan to tackle air pollution.

The government plans to regulate to reduce ammonia emissions from farming,  including a requirement to spread slurries and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment (trailing shoe or trailing hose or injection) by 2025.

In the UK, agriculture is responsible for 88% of all ammonia emissions – one-quarter of which comes from ammonia lost in the atmosphere when nitrogen fertiliser is made and spread on farmland.

Launching its Clean Air Strategy on Monday (14 January), the government pledged to work with the industry to:

- Support farmers to invest in infrastructure and equipment to reduce emissions

- Introduce regulations to require farmers to use low-emission farming techniques

- Introducing regulations to minimise pollution from fertiliser use.


The government says it will provide farmers with the support they need to make these important changes.

Defra farm minister George Eustice said: “Ammonia emissions can have a significant effect on the environment and on our health, and as custodians of the land, farmers have an important role to play in reducing them.

“Our future agriculture policy will involve financial rewards and incentives to help farmers reduce ammonia emissions.”

Emissions of ammonia fell by 13% between 1980 and 2015, the strategy says. However, since then there has been an increase in emissions, largely as a result of fertiliser use. Defra aims to reduce emissions of ammonia against the 2005 baseline by 8% by 2020 and 16% by 2030.

When ammonia drifts over industrial regions, it combines with other pollutants to form solid microscopic particles known as “particulate matter” that can stick to fine lung tissues, contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.


The main aims of the Clean Air Strategy can be summarised into the following:

- A requirement to take action to reduce emissions from urea-based fertilisers. The government will consult on this policy in 2019 “with a view to introducing legislation in the shortest possible timeframe”.

- A requirement for all solid manure and solid digestate spread to bare land (other than that managed in a no-till system) to be incorporated rapidly (within 12 hours), with legislation to be introduced in the shortest possible timeframe.

- A requirement to spread slurries and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment (trailing shoe or trailing hose or injection) by 2025. Those spreading digestate or large volumes of slurry may be required to adopt the practice at an earlier date.

- A requirement for slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027. Those producing or storing digestate or large volumes of slurry may be required to adopt the practice at an earlier date.

- Mandatory design standards for new intensive poultry, pig and beef livestock housing and for dairy housing. The standards will be designed in collaboration with industry experts.


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