Holland as the inventor of intensive farming, is trying to deal with attempts to follow the model as it has swung out of control in the US. There you have calfs in fields of plastic boxes parked like cars being fed form birth to slaughter, some never feeling the soft grass or breathing fresh air in their short life.
In Holland forces are trying to push the same model where the animal is minimally considered, and the nr of them per m2 is maximized. We call them ‘megastallen’ or megastables. They exist for pigs and hogs. They generally cause air pollution in the vicinity which is, after causing irritation with the local people, is now also killing birds and plants.
We think this industry is insane, it is done purely for the money, and more fundamentally to drive fossil fuel consumption and to create economic dependencies for which there is a need for well payed lazy intermediary jobs (like banks, shipping companies). The economy is, however you may dispute this, designed to maximize fossil fuel utilization, not wealth creation. These tortured animals in Holland are fed with Soy grown in Brazil, in a region until recently run by a big soy planter (who didn’t mind cutting down virgin rainforest to make way for his business).
4 NH3 + 3 O2 => 2 N2 + 6 H2O + Heat
But for us there’s another angle. This is about the stuff that is causing the irritation, the so called ‘Nitrogen’. Of course it is not nitrogen (N2) which makes up most of the air, but volatile nitrogen compounds, the most noticable being NH3, or ammonia. It stinks, it burns, it can knock you out. But there’s a thing. Ammonia is plant food, plant energy. Hogs and chicken make it and plants have learned to use it (nobody knows what came first). NH3 really is fuel though, and we should learn to look at it that way. NH3 in pure form is a diesel like fuel, it can run diesel engines with next to no adjustments. It burns CO2 free, because there is no carbon (C) in the stuff!
2 NH3 => 2 N2 + 3 H2 => Fuel cell => Electricity
Our economy designed products for maximum economic benefit, and in the case of fertilizer (ammonia), which turns into food for hogs, which turns into ammonia (and a lot of other stuff, for sure), it would not be ‘economic’ to recover the ammonia, even though the sugar in the manure is recovered and turned into methane of which one can once again make fertilizer. The point with NH3 is that it is also a good farm fuel, it is also possible to make it with a wind turbine, its use would cascade changes that would make farmers energy independent. Meanwhile a whole industry build around dealing with the ‘nitrogen problem’ would become obsolete.
NH3 burns like Diesel, most engines need next to no adjustment to become CO2 free!
So we are against megastables, but as they stand we also are against freely venting the nitrogen in the surroundings, they are a valuable fuel that can be used to heat the stables, burn lights (it can be split in to H2 and N2 and then go through a fuel cell) and be recovered from manure easily (we know how ask us). If this was done nobody would see nitrogen spilled on fields anymore, no stench, no polluted ground water. Industry really is an unguided nuclear missile most of the times : Only if it kills enough people to influence politics, it will respond.
Use of Ammonia is discouraged with the argument that it is unsafe, but research showed it is not less safe, indeed safer than diesel and gasoline. It burns less easy, it is highly noticable, but if you get a dose that knocks you out, you can fully recover. The name has to be made more precise, because real Nitrogen is also used to clean tanks etc. and there it regularly and tragically kills people who are tasked to clean those tanks (probably not in Holland anymore but elsewhere). The ‘nitrogen’ farmers spray is a mix of NH3 and other Nitrogen compounds, but not N2 which is the common compound associated with the name Nitrogen. We have mentioned this many times, we are polluting our land and water with something that is valuable and usefull to our farmers and which can replace dirty heavy fuels in our trucks and tractors.