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HomeFarming News3 Dutch companies join forces to help farmers cut nitrogen emissions
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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3 Dutch companies join forces to help farmers cut nitrogen emissions

Lely, a global producer of robotic milking and feeding systems, has partnered with dairy co-op, FrieslandCampina and bank, Rabobank, to launch a project to reduce nitrogen emissions on Dutch dairy farms.

They plan to install 96 Lely Spheres across all Dutch provinces and hope this initiative will pave the way for the industry “on a broader scale”.

According to the parties, “the Lely Sphere reduces nitrogen emissions up to 70% in the barn of a dairy farm”.

As a result, they believe that a “major” nitrogen reduction in dairy farming is “possible”.

So how does this circular manure handling system from Lely’s portfolio work?

As explained in a previous article on That’s Farming, the Lely Sphere is a circular barn system that separates solid manure and urine and converts nitrogen emissions into “valuable” fertiliser.

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Dutch dairy farms 

The farmer can then re-use this for precision fertilisation on the land.

In this way, they can:

  • Achieve a more closed mineral cycle;
  • Decrease the use of artificial fertiliser;
  • Improve the climate in the barn improves.

Recent scientific reports show that with the Lely Sphere, ammonia emissions are reduced by up to 70% in the barn.

How it will work

With this partnership, the overarching aim for FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and Lely is to make an investment in a Lely Sphere “accessible” for farmers.


  • Lely will give a discount on the purchase of the system;
  • Rabobank will offer a loan with “advantageous conditions”;
  • FrieslandCampina will provide a “financial contribution” to farms.

André van Troost, CEO of Lely, says that the firm wants to contribute to alternatives for the current government plans regarding the national nitrogen challenge.

Instead of reducing livestock and compensating dairy farmers for this, it believes in investing in research and technological innovations to stimulate circular livestock farming and make agriculture more sustainable.

With this partnership, it will make an investment in the Lely Sphere more accessible for farmers. He says this will enable them to work towards a sustainable future for their business.

Hein Schumacher, CEO FrieslandCampina, added that the Lely Sphere can achieve “an immediate and proven” nitrogen reduction.

“We want to encourage the government to take on this approach and invest in farmers who want to make their farm management more sustainable.”

“We believe this is a more sustainable and future-proof solution for the Netherlands than an expensive buy-out scheme.”

Solution to current nitrogen problem

Martine Boon, deputy director of Food & Agri at Rabobank, believes that this is one of the solutions to the current nitrogen problem.

He revealed that Rabobank would “offer an interest rebate and a grace period for the farmer”.

“This gives them more financial space to become more sustainable,” Boon concluded.

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