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Ammonia problems livestock explained in animation

Published on
September 22, 2015

Wageningen University & Research Livestock Research has made a short animation on ammonia emission by order of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This film explains, understandable for non-experts, the consequence of ammonia emission, European policy and the measures undertaken by the Netherlands.

It's all about the nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen (N) is an important nutrient for plants and animals. The film shows that the production of milk, meat, cheese and eggs is part of this cycle with nitrogen as a major nutrient for protein in these products. However, the cycle is not closed, much nitrogen leaks away as ammonia (NH3) in the air and precipitates in the surrounding area (deposition). This way, the agricultural sector is responsible for more than 80% of the emission of ammonia in the Netherlands, by keeping cows, pigs and poultry.

The deposition of ammonia is bad for nature: nitrogen-loving plants prevail, and displace other plants and thus the animals eating those plants. This decreases the biodiversity in natural areas. To avoid these effects and to protect natural ecosystems, agreements have been made at a European level. The film shows how we know the amount of ammonia leaking from the system. Thus the Netherlands can make policies to reduce ammonia emissions and measure the effect of those policies, to show we stand by our international agreements.

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