Institute of

Climate-Smart Agriculture

Ammonia emissions

Effective fertilizer application and ammonia emission reduction

Slurry application by trailing hose
Slurry application by trailing hose (© Thünen-Institut/AK)

Ammonia (NH3) emissions lead to nitrogen deposition associated with the eutrophication of near-natural ecosystems. Further turnover NH3 processes contribute to soil acidification and indirect emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Agricultural sources from animal husbandry and nitrogen fertilization are responsible for more than 95% of Germany´s national NH3 emissions. Germany has committed itself in an international agreement not to exceed a national maximum emission ceiling for NH3. The political pressure is rising for actions that will lead to emission reductions.

We measure and analyze NH3 emissions from diverse nitrogen fertilizer application techniques and evaluate emission reduction measures. Focus lies on diverse techniques for the treatment and spreading of animal manure and biogas digestate, which bear high potential of NH3 emissions. Ammonia reduction measures do not only contribute to climate and environmental protection but also offer the chance of utilizing nitrogen in agriculture more effectively. The results support our policy consultation and give evidence of emission reductions in the frame of the national emission inventories.

A junior research group of the institute develops novel methodologies for quantifying the emission and deposition of reactive atmospheric nitrogen compounds in terrestrial ecosystems and studies the interactions between nitrogen deposition and the biosphere – atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.