NORTHERN IRELAND'S Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is offering 16 dairy farmers the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands to learn new ways to reduce ammonia emissions.

The three-day study tour will take place from the June 11 to 13, focussing on the latest developments in dairy nutrition, housing, slurry storage and slurry application methods.

No less than 94% of Northern Ireland’s ammonia emissions are from agriculture, with a large proportion coming from dairy farms, and there is concern that high ammonia levels are damaging sensitive habitats. The UK has signed up to targets to reduce ammonia emissions so this is a very important area for the future of dairy farming – and one which will shape future investment decisions.

But the NI industry is not alone in facing this issue. Over the last 20 years the dairy industry in the Netherlands has been highly successful with innovating and producing practical solutions. Farmers who take part in the DAERA tour will hear directly from farmers in the Netherlands will help participants to better understand the ammonia issue and consider how to improve the efficiency of nutrient use on their own farms.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.The tour will include visits to several progressive dairy farms that have implemented the latest technologies to control ammonia in addition to a visit to the Leeuwaren Dairy Campus Research Centre, a dairy nutrition talk and a visit to a leading manufacturer of slurry application equipment. The tour will be led by CAFRE Advisers George Mathers and Alan Agnew.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of the farm business who is at least 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. 16 places are available, which will be allocated on a competitive basis.

Dairy farmers who are interested in participating in this study tour can find out more details and complete an online application at:

Applications will open on Wednesday May 1, and close at 4.00pm on Wednesday May 15.