Air quality really matters

On a farm a loss of nitrogen, a valuable crop nutrient, can spell economic loss for any farmer. A way to find out if you are losing this nutrient is to look at all your farm inputs and outputs, including air emissions. Managing emissions can be a balancing act, but with the proper resources you can be an emission managing pro.

Plot spraying
Plot spraying can impact your emissions though there are ways to manage them.

There are plenty airborne emissions produced on a farm such as smoke, dust, pesticide drift, greenhouse gases, odour and ammonia. This is normal but too much of these emissions can cause some negative impacts on the health of farm workers, neighbours, communities and farmers. This can also negatively impact the ecosystems causing harm to native plants, animals or water quality. There are ways to minimize emissions released from pasture management and cropping activities, but first you should know a bit about some of the airborne emissions .

One of the biggest contributors to airborne emissions is greenhouse gases. The main greenhouse gasses from the cropping industry are carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Soil emits nitrous oxide through anaerobic conditions, a biological process under low oxygen conditions. This means any high nitrogen inputs (nitrogen fertilizer, legume crop residues or manure) and waterlogging will increase nitrous oxide production.

A sprayer can impact your airborne emissions as well.

Carbon dioxide comes from crop production, mainly from decomposition of soil organic matter and burning of fossil fuels. Cropping practices that increase soil organic matter levels remove carbon dioxide from the air and store the carbon in the soil. Carbon sequestration, also known as carbon storage, reduces agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions as well.

To learn more about how to manage airborne emissions and reduce the amount you produce, visit Managing Agricultural Air Emissions.