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Teagasc outlines steps to reduce Ammonia Emissions

A new marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) for ammonia emissions has been published by Teagasc.

The publication is called ‘An Analysis of the Cost of the Abatement of Ammonia Emissions in Irish Agriculture to 2030’ . It outlines the steps that can be taken to reduce ammonia emissions from Irish agriculture and the costs of achieving this. The document was prepared by the Teagasc Gaseous Emission Working Group.

This analysis estimates the potential to abate national ammonia emissions from agriculture up to 2030. This report is an update from the 2015 Teagasc report which was the first of its kind to quantify the abatement potential of a range of ammonia mitigation measures, as well as their associated costs.

Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use programme, John Spink, said: “This analysis outlines the most cost effective pathways to meet future ammonia emission targets which were negotiated as part of the amended Clean Air Policy Package. The requirement to reduce ammonia emissions is urgent, both in terms of compliance with the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD), and as a way to reduce losses of agricultural nitrogen.”

Dominika Krol, environmental researcher, Teagasc Johnstown Castle, said: “Improving nitrogen use efficiency is a key focus for improving farm efficiency and sustainability, as well as reducing the ammonia, nitrate and greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of agriculture. Under the baseline business as usual scenario (S1), agricultural ammonia emissions are projected to increase by 9%, by 2030 relative to 2005 level, if mitigation actions are not adopted by farmers. The analysis presented in this report seeks to estimate the ammonia mitigation potential under likely mitigation pathways.”

Cathal Buckley, an economist in the Teagasc agricultural economics and farm surveys department, said: “Compared to a future where no mitigation measures are deployed to address emissions, it was found that by 2030 approximately 15,260 tonnes of ammonia could be abated on average each year at a net cost of €10.86 million per annum.  However, it should be noted that the net cost of €10.86 million is comprised of 6 measures that are cost negative (-€22.21 million) and 7 measures that are cost positive (€33.07 million) and that some of the cost negative measures are predicated on efficiency gains driven by best management practice adoption.”

A key finding of the report is that eighty per cent of the mitigation potential can be achieved by the full implementation of two mitigation pathways – switch from traditional chemical fertilisers to protected urea formulations and switch from slurry application by the splash plate method to low emission slurry spreading (LESS) techniques such as a trailing shoe or hose.