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Mobile Lab to Test Environmental Impact of Farms

Piglets and mother (Keith Weller, ARS/USDA)

(Keith Weller, Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, (Neiker-Tecnalia) in Spain has built a mobile environmental monitoring unit to assess on site greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from farms. The measurements from the mobile lab will be used to assess techniques based on scientific protocols to ease the environmental impact of livestock farming developed by a European project .

The techniques being tested are the product of the BATFarm project developing Best Available Techniques (BATs) to reduce environmental damage from swine, poultry and cattle farms located in the European Atlantic Area. In addition to Neiker-Tecnalia, the BATFarm project includes research institutes from Ireland, France, Spain, Scotland, and Portugal.

The mobile lab is equipped with equipment to take samples and maintain them under optimal testing conditions. A photoacoustic gas analyzer will monitor gas emissions on site for a month in a pig farm near to Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain’s Basque Country. The tests will assess the effectiveness of various additives to mitigate ammonia and greenhouse gases during slurry storage.

Intensive production models for livestock can produce considerable economic returns but also numerous environmental problems, including release of polluting gases such as ammonia, nitrous oxide and methane into the atmosphere. These intensive techniques can likewise contaminate soil and water with nitrates.

When the BATFarm project is over, farmers will be able to choose those technologies that best fit their environmental requirements. To help farmers make these choices, BATFarm project members are developing software to select the best environmental techniques.

Read more: USDA Funding Research to Aid Organic Dairy Farming

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