AFBI Open Days – Tackling Ammonia Emissions from NI Livestock Farming

Date published: 11 June 2024

Area of Expertise:

The emission of ammonia gas (NH3) from agricultural practices in Northern Ireland constitutes both a loss of valuable nitrogen from organic manures and fertiliser and an environmental threat to protected habitats.

A major programme of work, funded by DAERA, is currently underway at AFBI with a key focus on quantifying ammonia emissions and testing mitigation strategies

Ammonia (NH3) is a gas which is produced by natural and man-made sources. In Northern Ireland (and elsewhere), most of the ammonia in the air is released by agricultural practices, from the management of animal manures and application of nitrogen-containing mineral fertilisers.

Ammonia emissions from livestock farming are a key challenge in Northern Ireland as levels in the air are high and it is having wide-ranging negative environmental effects on sensitive habitats, human health, and climate change.  For these reasons there are international targets for the reduction of ammonia emissions. For the UK these targets are for a 16% reduction in ammonia levels in the atmosphere by 2030 in comparison to 2005 levels. In recent years, NI ammonia emissions have been on an upward trajectory, unlike many other air pollutants.

To address the issue, a major programme of work, funded by DAERA, is currently underway at AFBI with a key focus on quantifying ammonia emissions and testing mitigation strategies.  As part of that research programme, AFBI, working in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, have been modelling ammonia emissions for typical NI dairy and beef enterprises using the UK ammonia inventory model (NARSES). As well as work on management of emissions of ammonia, AFBI are also working on slurry processing options to manage phosphorus excesses being spread back to agricultural land.

Results from these research programmes will be presented at the AFBI Open Days on 18 and 19 June, exploring the options for ammonia reduction from both dairy and beef production systems in NI, and looking towards the future, exploring the potential of new animal housing systems and manure nutrient management technologies to reduce emissions beyond current best available technologies.

Participants are encouraged to come along to the ‘Farming for the Future’ Open Days and learn about the challenges and opportunities to reduce emissions from dairy and beef enterprises.

Visitors are advised that carparking for these events will be at Hillsborough Castle carpark, off the A1 dual carriageway. You will then be bused to the AFBI Hillsborough site.

For more information on the Beef and Sheep Open Day on Wednesday 19 June or the Dairy Open Day on Tuesday 18 June, please register via the AFBI website at

Pre-registration is essential for these events and you can also register by scanning the QR code below:

Notes to editors: 

AFBI’s Vision is “Scientific excellence delivering impactful and sustainable outcomes for society, economy and the natural environment”.

AFBI’s Purpose is “To deliver trusted, independent research, statutory and surveillance science and expert advice that addresses local and global challenges, informs government policy and industry decision making, and underpins a sustainable agri-food industry and the natural and marine environments”.

AFBI’s core areas:

  • Leading improvements in the agri-food industry to enhance its sustainability.
  • Protecting animal, plant and human health.
  • Enhancing the natural and marine environment.

Share this page