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Ammonia from intensive poultry production

Agriculture is the source of 94 per cent of ammonia emissions in Germany. The agriculture sector includes branches of business such as porker production, dairy farming or crop production and is accountable for a number of different environmental impacts. The most serious issue with ammonia in the environment is that it causes acidification and over-fertilisation of sensitive habitats such as forests, bodies of water or wetlands. Ammonia is formed during the decomposition of animal excretions (excrement and urine). Ammonia is present mainly in livestock housing and on fields that are fertilised with manure and slurry. A number of different measures have been taken to reduce ammonia emissions in livestock farming. In pig farming, protein-adapted feed in particular has led to lower ammonia emissions; similar results have been achieved in poultry farming through manure drying.
In 2010 the Federal Government established a threshold value for ammonia emissions of 550 kilotonnes per year. For some agriculture enterprises an ammonia threshold has been set at ten tonnes per year. Enterprises must report any exceedances of this level. This applies to e.g. farms that have a minimum capacity of 40,000 for poultry, a minimum of 2,000 (over 30 kilogrammes) for porkers or a minimum of 750 pigsties for sows. If a farm exceeds the emissions threshold of a pollutant, this information is disclosed on Thru.de.

More than 200 exceedances in 2010

In 2010 there were 203 farms in intensive poultry production alone which exceeded the threshold value for ammonia. That figure has hovered at around 200 for the last three years. The vast majority of the farms (85) are in Lower Saxony, followed by Saxony-Anhalt (30), Bavaria (17), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (15), Saxony (14), Brandenburg (12) and Thuringia (11). The map below clearly shows the concentration of these farms in the northwest region of Lower Saxony, in Saxony-Anhalt – including northwestern Saxony – and in eastern Bavaria. The distribution of farms is more balanced in the other federal states.

The map covers all poultry farms that release an annual volume of more than ten tonnes of ammonia to the air, which reached a total of 6,056.6 tonnes in 2010. The different shading of the dots on the map reflects the relative scale of the ammonia emissions from the facility in 2010. Most of the poultry farms (106) release between ten and twenty tonnes of ammonia per year. Another 79 have emissions of between 20 and 50 tonnes each per year. There are only nine farms with emissions of 50 - 100 tonnes and another nine with more than 100 tonnes.


March 2013