Clean Air Farming has a vision of food production without the negative effects of excessive ammonia and methane emissions. We are committed to a long-term reduction of air pollution from animal husbandry. This requires a more consistent implementation of, and improvements to, the current legal framework.
We aim to promote the use of reduction techniques and the capacity within the agricultural and food industries to reduce ammonia and methane emissions. We also focus on combating food waste to reduce the impact of unnecessary production.
Our project team consists of the four partners France Nature Environment, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Lake Constance Foundation and Deutsche Umwelthilfe. Together, we develop solutions with actors from agriculture, the food sector and politics. The core area of the project activities lies in Germany and France. Through the participation of the EEB, the project aims to transfer results across Europe, in order to place them in at least five other EU countries. The project runs from August 2018 to January 2022 and is co-financed by the EU LIFE program.
Ammonia (NH3) and methane (CH4) emissions have a negative impact on human health, climate and ecosystems. Methane is a greenhouse gas and is also a precursor gas for harmful ground-level ozone (O3). Ammonia, on the other hand, reacts with other air pollutants to form particulate matter and may cause asthma, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. According to the European Environment Agency, more than 60,000 people in Germany die prematurely each year from the increased concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) and 3,000 as a result of ozone.
In addition, ammonia is spread by air and leads to acidification and eutrophication of near-natural ecosystems and thus to a loss of biological diversity. Already 63% of European ecosystems and 73% of NATURA 2000 sites are seriously affected by air pollution.
In Europe, agriculture is responsible for over 50% of methane emissions and about 90% of ammonia emissions. The most important sources of methane are emissions from fermentation during the animal digestion process of ruminants and emissions from the storage of solid manure, slurry and fermentation residues. Ammonia is emitted during the application of urea-based mineral fertilisers and is also produced during the storage and application of manure from pig, cattle and poultry farming. Agricultural production processes, especially in the area of dairy and meat production, therefore offer numerous starting points for an effective reduction of methane and ammonia emissions.
Clean Air Farming addresses the biggest challenges in implementing measures to reduce ammonia and methane emissions from agriculture. Our focus is on the consideration and integration of existing knowledge in legislative procedures and in practice, as well as the implementation of existing legal provisions. With regard to methane, there are no concrete statutory obligations to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector. For ammonia, the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC Directive) specifies annual maximum quantities. Germany has been exceeding these limits for a number of years. In the future agricultural policy must force the introduction of emission-reducing practices.