NETHERLANDS – Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina has forged a partnership with Rabobank and Lely for a pilot project aimed at reducing nitrogen emissions in dairy farms in the Netherlands.

The partnership aims to install around 96 Lely Spheres in dairy farms across all Dutch provinces to cut nitrogen emissions.

Lely Sphere is the name of a circular manure-handling system for separating and reusing mineral flows on dairy farms.

Lely company says the installation helps achieve ‘a more closed mineral cycle and can reduce nitrogen emissions by up to 70% in the barn of a dairy farm.

The system can also separate three mineral streams that can be used for precision fertilization, according to Lely.

The barn system is officially recognized and is a part of the Dutch government’s 2021 Regeling Ammoniak Veehouderij “Regulation on ammonia and livestock farming” (RAV) list.

The three entities hope that, after this pilot project, the concept will be applied on a broader scale in the sector.

In terms of covering the cost of the installation of these on-farm systems, FrieslandCampina said it will provide a financial contribution to the farms.

In addition, Lely will give a discount on the purchase of the system and Rabobank is offering the buyers a loan with advantageous conditions.

The companies believe the pilot project will encourage regional and national authorities to make the necessary financial resources available for additional farms to install these systems.

Besides innovation in nitrogen reduction, reduction of greenhouse gases including methane emissions from cattle is high on the agenda of the three organizations.

They are also assessing innovative models to address that challenge and, thereby, boost the sustainability profile of agriculture.

This investment to cut dairy emissions comes at a time when there is unrest among Dutch farmers, triggered by a government proposal to slash emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50% by 2030.

The plan is said to lead to major upheavals in the Netherlands’ multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, which has angered some farmers.

The government-mandated reductions in emissions in coming years are as much as 70% in many places close to protected nature areas and as much as 95% in other places.

The Dutch government called the move “unavoidable” and earmarked an extra 24.3 billion euros (US$25.6 billion), to finance changes that will likely require many farmers to reduce their livestock or remove them altogether.

The reforms are expected to include buying some farms whose animals produce large amounts of ammonia.

André van Troost, CEO of Lely, said, “Instead of reducing livestock and compensating dairy farmers for this.”

we believe in investing in research and technological innovations to stimulate circular livestock farming and make agriculture more sustainable.”

The government in the past had called on farmers to use feed for their animals that contain less protein as a way of reducing ammonia emissions.

The problem is compounded in the Netherlands, which is known for its intensive farming practices; large numbers of livestock are kept on small areas of land.

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