Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant from Agriculture.

Trends in greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions from the agricultural sector have been balanced since 1990. More information on emission trends from the agricultural sector in Slovakia.

Total emissions

The development of livestock has had a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions in this sector since 1990. The main reason for the decline was economic change and the transformation of the sector after 1989. Agriculture has transformed from a planned economic model to a market one. The decrease in emissions was mainly of an economic nature and was accompanied mainly by the sales and financial crisis in primary agricultural enterprises, which peaked in 1992. One of the main objectives of the agricultural transformation process during its transition to the market mechanism was de-collectivization and restoration of private property rights. We can see a further decline in animal numbers after 2004, when Slovakia joined the European Union. However, this decline was of short duration, as we have seen a stabilization of animal numbers since 2006, in addition to a continuous decline in dairy stocks. Thanks to the subsidies received from the common budget of the European Union, which were earmarked to support European farms from the common agricultural policy of the European Union, the decline in animal stocks has been alleviated.

Agricultural ammonia emissions have decreased by 56% since 1990 and have decreased by 12% compared to the previous year. The main driver of this decline was a significant decrease in emissions from cattle and pigs due to the dramatic reduction in livestock numbers. With regard to the period from 2011 to 2015, we can say that NH3 emissions from the management of manure are relatively stable and their steady increase is due to the increase in the categories of beef cattle, pigs and poultry. NH3 emissions in agricultural soils decreased due to reduced consumption of some types of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers.

Agriculture is not a major producer of particulate matter. PM emissions in agriculture occur mainly during the handling of feed, during the handling and drying of agricultural crops, during the handling of animal litter in housing and tillage. At the same time, solid particles are formed during the activity of animals during their housing. In 2020, agriculture accounted for 1.6% (0.284 Gg) of PM2.5, 15.1% (3.622 Gg) PM10 a 13.5% (4,28 Gg) of the national total TSP emissions. During crop cultivation and ploughing, approximately 61% (2.6 Gg) of the sector's total PM10 emissions are generated. PM2.5 and TSP emissions from agriculture stagnated in the period 2005-2020 due to declining emissions from manure management and increasing partial emissions from agricultural land.

In 2020, agriculture produced greenhouse gases in the volume of 2,580 Gg CO2 equivalents. The share in the national total was 7%. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) decreased by 69.5% between 1990 and 2020 due to the decline of livestock. NMVOC emissions are formed in the digestive tract of herbivores as a by-product of enteric (intestinal) fermentation, in which carbohydrates are broken down into simpler molecules by the action of microorganisms. The amount of released volatile organic substances depends on the type of digestive tract, the age and weight of the animal, as well as the quality and quantity of feed consumed. Another source of NMVOC emissions is the storage of fodder, especially silage. As a result, cattle farming is the most important source of agricultural NMVOC emissions (72%).

In 2020, agricultural NOx emissions were 7.12 Gg and 12.7%, the share of the national total agricultural NOx emissions have decreased by 47% since 1990, mainly due to the reduction of livestock. During the period between 2016-2020, NOx emissions from the agricultural sector increased due to a significant increase in the consumption of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers.


Trends of emissions by sources of animal and plant production

Trends in emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants from the agricultural sector by individual activities have been balanced since 1990. More information on emissions trends from the agricultural sector by individual activities in Slovakia.

Emissions by category

Methane emissions from enteric fermentation have a significant impact on climate change. Cattle is a key animal category, where in 1990 almost 90% of methane from enteric fermentation was emitted by this category, this share did not change significantly in 2020 (88%). Dairy cows account for more than 49% of methane emissions in this category. Other livestock species contribute to the remaining 51% of emissions. Intensive animal husbandry has brought high productivity of animals, on the other hand, it has led to a decrease in the number of dairy cows and at the same time to a decrease in methane emissions from this category. Total methane emissions from enteric fermentation decreased from 111.9 Gg in 1990 to 38.65 Gg in 2020, a decrease of 65.5%. Dairy cows and other cattle account for a significant share of emissions from enteric fermentation (40% and 48.3%). Sheep produce 8.8% of methane emissions.

Methane emissions from manure management have fallen due to a dramatic decline in livestock numbers, especially cattle and pigs. Methane emissions from manure and manure storage decreased from 17.33 Gg in 1990 to 3.48 Gg in 2020, a decrease of almost 80% compared to 1990. If we analyze the sources of emissions, the largest share of emissions is storage and handling of manure and manure for pig production. The figure summarizes the trend of emissions and the amount of emissions by individual animal species. Emissions from cattle, pigs and sheep were calculated based on emission factors specific to the Slovak Republic based on regional data on animal feed rations and information on manure loading and storage systems. Manure and slurry from pigs and cattle have the greatest potential to produce methane. These categories account for up to 88% of methane emissions. The remaining 12% are emissions from other animals.

In 2020, 0.5 Gg of N2O was released from manure management. Compared to 1990, emissions decreased by 77% due to a decrease in livestock after 1990. The decrease in the number of all livestock species was significant, especially in the cattle, sheep and horses categories. The trend of goat numbers is growing compared to 1990. The highest decrease was observed in pigs (-80%), other cattle (-74%) and dairy cows (-53%) compared to 1990. This decrease was mainly influenced by the economic situation in agriculture, especially by the continuous decline in cattle numbers. A further decrease in emissions is visible after 2015 caused by the political decision to end milk quotas. The EU milk quota system ended on 31 March 2015. It was first introduced in 1984 at a time when EU production was well above demand.

NH3 emissions have decreased by 62% since 1990. The main reason for this decrease was a significant reduction in livestock numbers, especially cattle and pigs. Between 2012 and 2019, there was a decrease in the number of cattle and sheep and a slight increase in the number of goats, poultry and pigs.

During the management of agricultural land and during the cultivation of crops in 2020, 4.38 Gg of N2O emissions were produced. Emissions decreased by 42% compared to 1990. The main reason for the declining trend is a sharp decline in the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers in Slovakia after 1990. Ddespite the decline in recent years, we have seen an increase again, especially since 2009. In 2011-2020 there was an increase in the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers. The general increase in emissions is due to the economic recovery in the crop and fodder sector, and the annual increase in arable land puts pressure on higher consumption of organic and inorganic fertilizers. The negative water balance in soils and the resulting soil drought causes outages in crops, these conditions have played a major role in reducing N2O emissions from leaching from agricultural soils and pastures.

The trend of ammonia emissions from agricultural land management is declining, except for a few isolated years (1997, 2002, 2017), which are out of line with the declining trend. These peaks in the trend are due to the higher application of mineral fertilizers to the soil in 2002 and 2017, increased consumption of urea, which has one of the greatest potentials for ammonia emissions.

Carbon dioxide emissions from liming and urea applications were calculated based on the 2006 IPCC methodology, which means that only the emission factors from this publication were used. The trend of emissions has a dynamic character, while in 1998 and 2015 we record the peak of the trend. Emissions are solely dependent on the amount of raw material applied. In 1998, the peak is mainly due to the application of dolomite and limestone, and the peak in 2015 is due to the increased application of urea to the soil.