Better slurry management is vital for UK agriculture to achieve its goal of reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040, say experts.
Livestock farmers need a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact of slurry for the sector to reach the ambitious target a full 10 years ahead of the government’s 2050 goal for the UK as a whole.
A proactive approach to slurry management, coupled with the willingness to adopt change, is going to be key in achieving the sector’s aspirations, explains Andrew Sincock, commercial director at Agriton UK.
“Many dairy farmers will use lime as a bedding powder to help prevent mastitis and other pathogenic diseases. But what many don’t currently know is that the reaction between the ammonium in slurry and the lime can lead to the release of large volumes of carbon dioxide and nitrogen.”
There is evidence to suggest that 1000kg of lime can react with ammonium in the slurry to release up to 440kg of carbon dioxide, and 280kg of nitrogen in the form of ammonia, says Mr Sincock.
These emission rates are significant. But they can be reduced by using an alternative bedding powder, which doesn’t react with slurry and acts quickly to raise the pH of the environment – killing harmful pathogens and bacteria.
Mr Sincock explains that slurry inoculants that contain effective microorganisms are another example of how farmers can reduce on-farm emissions when added to cubicles, slurry, or farmyard manure.
“When you add effective micro-organisms (EM), which contain a mixture of bacteria, yeast, fungi, actinomycetes and phototrophic bacteria to slurry, they work synergistically to break down and ferment organic matter.”
Fermentation helps retain key nutrients within the slurry and decreases the release of harmful emissions such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane. The nutrient rich and non-toxic slurry can then be spread as an alternative to artificial fertilisers.