Research project Reduction of ammonia emissions in organic livestock farming

In progress RAMBIO
Chicken free range

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Main research question

What measures can organic poultry, pig and goat farms take to reduce their ammonia emissions while remaining compliant with organic legislation? The Rambio project, led by ILVO, is looking into this. The proposed measures must fit into a system approach and are preferably source-oriented, i.e. focused on, for example, animal management, bedding materials, and layout of the free-range yard. In organic livestock farming, the need for (additional) applicable and effective ammonia reduction techniques is highest in the poultry, pig and goat sectors.

Research approach

We will search for ammonia-reducing measures that are still unknown in Flanders with the help of international scientific literature, contacts with foreign researchers, experiences from ongoing ILVO ammonia emissions research and discussions with organic farmers. For the feedback with the sector, ILVO calls on an external partner. We evaluate the applicability of the legally recognized ammonia-reducing measures from mainstream livestock farming (AEA and PAS list) for the organic sector. From both exercises, we select the most promising measures and then explore them in more detail. We describe the selected measures in detail, gather available knowledge on: (1) the working principle of the measure, (2) the results of emission measurements already carried out, and (3) the conditions around their application to ensure effectiveness. Consideration is also given to the possibility of securing the measures and techniques. If knowledge is lacking, we formulate proposals for further (research) actions.

The selected measures will be described in detail, including the available knowledge about: (1) the operating principle of the measure, (2) the results of existing emission measurements (3) the conditions to guarantee effectiveness of the application. The possibility of safeguarding the measures and techniques is also being considered. In case of absence of knowledge, proposals for further actions will be formulated.


In the context of the Programmatic Approach to Nitrogen (PAS), the Flemish livestock industry faces major efforts in the coming years to reduce its ammonia emissions. For traditional livestock farming, lists of recognized emission reducing techniques and measures are available that livestock farmers can apply. The lack of legally recognized techniques and measures applicable to organic livestock farming poses a threat to the survival of this sector. And this while Europe's ambition is for organic agriculture to grow.