Stikstof zorgt voor vermesting en tast natuurgebieden aan

Nitrogen reduction

Nitrogen is a valuable fertilizer, but is more often seen as a problem in recent times. This is mostly due to the negative effect nitrogen emissions have on natural reserves.


Nitrogen causes eutrophication and as such affects the biodiversity in natural reserves. Steps have been taken to reduce the nitrogen emissions drastically between 1990 and 2010. When data from the RIVM is consulted however, the reduction of these emissions is declining. It is also apparent that the agricultural sector has the largest stake in the emission of nitrogen, with 60% of the domestic production and 40% of the total emissions. The majority of these emisions consist of ammonia. Ammonia is created when urine and the manure of barn animals come in contact. Due to this, a barn animal produces 11 kilogams ammonia, while an animal in the meadow produces 9.5 kilograms of ammonia per year. 

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A better solution is to make use of this gasification. A farmer can create an extra source of income by fermenting the manure in a digester and selling the sustainable energy it produces. Apart from that, the fermentation of fresh manure reduces the ammonia levels with 11 percent, as shown through the research of the Wageningen University & Research Center (WUR). In this manner, manure is used to both create sustainable energy as well as reduce the emission of ammonia. A good example of this is the biogashub in Noord Deurningen, where this currently  happens at 6 dairy farms.


The nitrogen problems in the Netherlands can't however be sufficiently solved by the measures discribed above. The emissions in the barn are indeed reduced, but the emissions on the farmland through the application of manure remain the same or even rise. These emissions can be further reduced through the use of a nitrogen stripper. Examples of this are the Bio-NP at the farm of Hans Nijkamp in Bathmen or the Jumpstart installation (Friesland Campina initiative) at the farm of Jack van Poppel in Noord Brabant. These installations produce fertilizer out of manure in the form of ammonium sulfate. Based on research by the WUR we can deduct that the fermentation of manure and the separation of this fraction from the digestate results in a nitrogen emmision reduction between the 40 and 50% of the total nitrogen emission.


Combining fermentation and the use of a nitrogen stripper can result in breaching the current impasse when it comes to nitrogen emissions. Big steps can be taken towards a sustainable form of livestock farming, in which the farmer also produces biogas which in turn can be used to create a society free from natural gas.


With the first pilots realised, it is now time for the big roll out. With an extra reward for the avoided nitrogen, an accelerated roll out can be realised.

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