Livestock farming key to ammonia emissions, say researchers

Posted: 14 April 2020 | | No comments yet

In the past decade, China has made progress in the prevention and control of atmospheric sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution, but little has been done in terms of ammonia control, according to researchers.

Livestock farming should be the focus of agricultural ammonia emissions, say researchers

As the only alkaline gas in the atmosphere, ammonia can react with sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to form secondary fine particles, accelerating the generation of atmospheric haze. Ammonia is therefore considered as a catalyst and accelerator for the widespread haze pollution problem in China.

Although there are some existing global or national emission inventories, they are not considered to be very applicable to regional-scale ammonia reduction policies due to the lack of specific regional information. Professor Weishou Shen’s research group at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST) investigated ammonia emissions from agriculture in Jiangsu Province from 2000 to 2017 based on the emissions factor method, and found that livestock and poultry farming contributed the majority.

“Jiangsu is where our research team is based, and it happens that this province ranks first in ammonia emissions from agriculture in key areas of national air pollution control in China,” explained Shen. “We therefore feel it’s our duty to investigate the characteristics and trend of change of ammonia emissions from agriculture here.”

The team selected five regional representative nitrogen fertilisers and four typical livestock types and calculated their corresponding emission factors to investigate the characteristics and trends of agricultural ammonia emissions in Jiangsu from 2000 to 2017. They found that ammonia emissions from agriculture were mainly contributed by livestock and poultry farming (78.08 percent) and nitrogen fertiliser application (21.92 percent), and presented a fluctuating interannual trend during the study period.

“We suggest that ammonia emissions control from livestock and poultry farming should be a future focus of agricultural ammonia control,” Shen concluded.

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