Today (Monday 14th January 2019) the UK Government launched the new Clean Air Strategy 2019. The strategy sets an ambitious, long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to particulate matter (PM), which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified to be the most damaging air pollutant. The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.
So how does this affect farmers?
UK agriculture is responsible for 88% of ammonia emissions. In 2016, one quarter of those emissions came from fertiliser use. The rest comes from livestock farming via the use of high-protein food, much of which can be traced back to fertiliser use. Ammonia reacts with nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide to form secondary particulate matter.
How does the UK Government plan to tackle ammonia emissions from agriculture?
The Clean Air Strategy sets out three main measures by which the Government will encourage the reduction of ammonia emissions from agricultural practises:
- Support farmers to invest in infrastructure and equipment to reduce emissions.
- Introduce regulations to require farmers to use low emission farming techniques.
- Introduce regulations to minimise pollution from fertiliser use.
In September 2018 the Government launched a new £3 million programme through the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) partnership to fund a team of specialists to work with farmers and landowners in priority areas to provide support and advice.
The Government also proposes that funding from future Agricultural Policy should go towards targeted action to protect habitats from pollution.