Innovative software ‘Batfarm’ enables livestock farmers to assess their farm emissions

Authors: Arriaga Haritz1, Aguilar Maite2, Abaigar Alberto2, Cordovín Lucía2, Merino Pilar1, Aranzazu Varvaró3 - May, 3 2018  (1 NEIKER-Tecnalia  2 INTIA 3 IRTA)

The environmental impacts from modern farming, have led to international protocols, European directives and national regulations. At this regard, poultry and swine farms over certain size must have a permit to operate based on the implementation of Best Available Techniques (BAT) according to Industrial Emissions Directive IED 2010/75/EU. However, the dairy sector could also be involved in the future on the deployment of BAT in order to minimize negative environmental impact.

In recent years several models have been developed in Europe to simulate farm emissions. However, there is a lack of support and knowledge, transfer models designed for farm-scale operations that combine a variety of methodologies and uses inputs well known by the farmers rather than requiring additional data collection. Besides, animal husbandry has to be considered in the entire process chain, from animal to manure landspreading or export from the farm.

In this context, a software called Batfarm was created to simulate the effect of Best Available Techniques (BAT) in intensive farms. The model was designed with methodological rigour and as a user-friendly tool that can be used by farmers and technicians. The aim of the tool was to improve the decision making for reducing emissions of ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) comparing various scenarios, thus helping to selecting the most appropriate environmental strategies. The software covers all the phases in the production system—animal housing, storage, treatment and field application of manures and slurries and it can be used on livestock farms raising pigs, poultry (eggs and meat), and dairy cows.

It was developed jointly by the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development NEIKER-Tecnalia, INTIA, IRSTEA, TEAGASC, the Instituto Superior de Agronomia of Portugal, and Glasgow Caledonian University.

The tool can simulate the effect of the following BAT: nutritional strategies (protein and phosphorus setting), design of housing (types of housing, flooring and deep ditch) and manure management (frequent emptying, drying, separation, aerobic treatment, anaerobic digestion, composting, storage covers and additives, different application equipment in the field, etc).

Figure 1. Relation of Batfarm submodules and its interactions.

The main calculations made by the computing tool are feed, water and energy consumption; animal production (live weight and milk); ammonia, nitrous oxide and methane emissions; the production and composition of manures and slurries; and the nutrients applied to the soil (pastures or agricultural soils).

The Batfarm application and the manuals needed to use it, correctly can be downloaded on this website and it is available in four languages: Spanish, French, English and Portuguese: