Manure Techniques `Could Help Livestock Farmers' RESEARCH: Environment Could Benefit

Article excerpt

NEW techniques for managing livestock manure could benefit grassland farmers and be good for the environment, according to a team of scientists at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.

Researchers Dr David Chadwick and John Laws are testing innovative measures to conserve nitrogen in manures and so exploit their value as fertiliser, while minimising the risk of pollution of the environment.

The team's research will be on show at the two-day Royal Agricultural Society of England Grassland 2002 event, which starts at Crewe Farm, Stoneleigh, tomorrow.

Manure is rich in plant nutrients, but it can cause air and water pollution if mismanaged. Emission of the gas ammonia is a key cause for concern, partly because it contributes to acid rain and partly because it acts as a fertiliser once it has been returned to the soil, through rainfall, for example. In areas with nutrient-poor soils, such as heathlands, this can cause unwanted changes in plant populations.

``The livestock sector accounts for around 80pc of the UK's an-nual emissions of ammonia gas, but these emissions can be reduced by careful management during animal housing, manure storage and slurry-spreading,'' said Dr Chadwick. …