LIFE-CMCD - LIFE-CMCD: Closing the Mineral Cycle in Dairy farming in the EU

LIFE16 ENV/NL/000363

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Contact details:

Contact person: Karel van den Berg
Tel: 31881228221
Email: kvandenberg@lely.com

Project description:


Ammonia (NH3) is a colourless, pungent-smelling and corrosive gas that is produced by the decay of organic vegetable matter and from the excrement of humans and animals. When released into the atmosphere, ammonia increases the level of air pollution, as it is a precursor of particulate matter (PM). Once deposited in water and soils, it can potentially cause two major types of environmental damage: acidification and eutrophication, both of which can harm sensitive vegetation systems, biodiversity and water quality. The amended Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone requires EU Member States to reduce their NH3 and PM2.5 emissions levels.

Agriculture is responsible for 94% of total ammonia emissions in the EU (Eurostat EU-27, 2010), that is 3 364 kilotonnes NH3/year. Dairy cattle farming accounts for 47% of ammonia emissions by the agriculture sector (Eurostat, 2016). New solutions are therefore necessary to reduce ammonia emissions from agriculture, especially in the dairy sector.


The CMCD project will demonstrate a system to reduce ammonia emissions and to close the nitrogen loop in dairy cattle farming.

Urease, an enzyme present in cow faeces, reacts with urinary urea to form ammonia. In the main dairy countries in the EU, more than 90% of dairy cattle are housed in loose housing barns that allow them to move freely, enabling faeces and urine to mix to emit ammonia. The new system, known as Lely RFX, will separate faeces and urine at source, using robots. The material will be divided into a fibrous fraction and a liquid slurry with the following uses:

  • The faeces fibres will be used to make bedding material that does not emit ammonia, while the phosphate-rich liquid slurry will be stored for use as a fertiliser or compressed and dried for export to other farms; and
  • The urine will be washed into a solution of ammonium sulphate ((NH2)2SO4) or ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) to make two different kinds of fertiliser. Both types reduce ammonia emissions on the field by more than 60% compared to non-processed manure. The remaining urine fraction, rich in potassium and trace elements, can also be used as a fertiliser.
  • The project will demonstrate the new system in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark, to prove its replicability. It aims to reduce ammonia emissions from the participating barns by over 60%.

    CMCD is fully in line with the new National Emission Ceilings Directive, which establishes national reduction commitments for ammonia. By enabling organic waste from dairy cattle to be reused for fertiliser and cattle bedding, the project complies with the objectives of the Waste Framework Directive. CMCD also contributes to the EU 2020 Climate and Energy Package, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy cattle farming.

    Expected results:

  • A 60% reduction in ammonia (NH3) emissions from the barn on dairy cattle farms;
  • A 60% reduction in ammonia (NH3) emissions on the field by refining urine and closing the nitrogen loop;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: a 30% reduction in nitrous oxide (N20) emissions and a 100% reduction in methane (CH4) emissions in the barn when liquid slurry is dried, accounting for 303.7 kilotonnes CO2 equivalent during the course of the project. A 50% reduction in the volume of manure when compressed and dried, reducing GHG emissions from transport, as well as transport costs;
  • Demonstration, monitoring and validation of the Lely RFX system on five farms, in the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Denmark;
  • Production of bedding material from solid manure, reducing the need for farms to purchase such material;
  • Increased hygiene and safety in the barn for farmer and cows, with reduced levels of harmful gases; and
  • Promotion of feasible and profitable new business models for dairy cattle farmers.



Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Agricultural waste
Waste - Waste recycling
Industry-Production - Agriculture - Forestry
Air & Noise - Air pollutants


Agriculture‚  waste recycling‚  air pollution‚  agricultural pollution‚  agricultural waste

Target EU Legislation

  • Air
  • COM (2013/0918) - A Clean Air Programme for Europe (18.12.2013)
  • Waste
  • Directive¬†2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Lely Industries NV
Type of organisation Large enterprise
Description Lely Industries NV develops, manufactures and sells products and services for the agricultural (dairy) sector. These include forage harvesting and automated feeding systems, barn cleaners and milking robots.
Partners Lely Technologies NV, The Netherlands Lely International N.V., The Netherlands


Project reference LIFE16 ENV/NL/000363
Duration 01-JUL-2017 to 30-JUN -2020
Total budget 3,349,465.00 €
EU contribution 1,846,434.00 €
Project location Syddanmark(Danmark) Bretagne(France) Noord-Brabant(Nederland)


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