2009 | KTBL

Best Available Techniques for European Intensive Livestock Farming

Support for the Implementation of the IPPC-Directive

The overall objective of this project is to develop an integrated and consistent methodology for the classification of livestock housing systems including storage, treatment and spreading of the manures produced, in terms of "Best Available Techniques".


This includes the secondary objectives

  • The development and application of systems to evaluate the environmental and economic performance of different technologies in use in intensive livestock farming including cost/benefit considerations regarding emission reduction,
  • The assessment of animal health and welfare implications that are specific for the Intensive Livestock Farming sector.
  • The development of a documentation system for BAT techniques to support the implementation of new and effective techniques, very much depending on the possibilities of use of documentation across borders.
  • To prepare a suitable "Glossary of Terms on Livestock Manure Management" to support the harmonised description of techniques in Europe.
  • To disseminate the results widely including all relevant stakeholders in the Livestock Farming Sector.

The developed system will be made available in form of guidelines to all stakeholders working with BAT definition and will support the revision of the BREFs by providing a common platform and a harmonized approach for description and assessment of the livestock systems.

The main target group for the results of BAT-SUPPORT project will be the experts in the Member States involved in preparing the national contributions for the updating of the BREF for Intensive Rearing of Poultry and Pigs.

The views and opinions expressed in this website are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.

Background information

The relevance and purpose of this project relates to the implementation of the European IPPC Directive (Council Directive 96/61/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control of 24 September 1996; PDF-File, 96 kB). The purpose of the Directive is to achieve integrated systems of prevention of polluting emissions to air, land and water, including measures concerning waste, in order to achieve a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole. One crucial sector is livestock agriculture due to its very large impact on the wider environment. Not surprisingly, one BREF document is dedicated to "installations for the intensive rearing of poultry and pigs".
The successful application of a BAT (best available technology) policy requires a high degree of support for both the regulator(s) and industry. Comprehensive advice and guidance notes are essential for effective implementation of the integrated pollution control regime in the Member States.

For that purpose, the European IPPC Bureau (EIPPCB) in Seville is charged by the European Commission with the organisation of a European information exchange in order to establish special Reference Documents (known as BREFs) for each of the categories of industrial activities listed in the Directive. The first BREF for Intensive Livestock Farming (ILF) was published in 2003 (European Commission 2003: "Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for Intensive Rearing of Poultry and Pigs"; PDF-File, 5 MB).

The BREF documents assist the regulatory authorities by describing reference techniques and reference levels for each sector. BREFs are uniformly defined on a Europe-wide basis and are crucially intended for regular updating. The procedure of BAT classification as described in the BREF ("Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for Intensive Rearing of Poultry and Pigs") requires a harmonised approach on European level. In the development of the first BREF for the intensive livestock farming sector in 2003, this harmonisation was lacking and many European countries used their own system and their own criteria for the evaluation of the best technologies. This lead to differing results and to the call for harmonised guidelines for the formulation of classification methods of BAT for Intensive Livestock Farming.

The field data availability relating to livestock and livestock waste management systems in current use varies across Europe. There is an urgent need for harmonisation of both the required data acquisition and of the procedure to identify and define systems as "Best Available Technique". For some of the New Member States, IPPC is still being implanted on an informal basis due to a lack of available data.

A major difficulty in international collaboration, and a major source of misunderstandings regarding livestock and manure management, is the lack of a standardised terminology. This is not only true for the translation between different languages but also within most languages. A first attempt to overcome this difficulty was done in the framework of RAMIRAN (Recycling Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network) which published a "Glossary of terms on livestock manure management" in 2003 (Pain and Menzi 2003, www.ramiran.net). Nevertheless this document needs to be updated and partly extended to fulfil the needs of a document suitable to be used in the BAT definition process.

Intensive Livestock Farming is connected with a number of environmental effects such as emissions to the air (ammonia, greenhouse gases, dust and bioaerosols), discharges to soils and surfaces water (nitrogen, phosphorus, heavy metals, organic compounds) as well as noise and odour nuisance.

Nitrogen emissions from agriculture have been identified as a risk to the quality of soils, surface and marine waters. The risks relate to high levels of nitrates found in drinking waters and acidification of soils and waters. Eutrophication involves excessive algal growth and can lead to potential adverse effects on and biodiversity or human uses of waters.

Furthermore, the poor management of livestock wastes is closely linked to dispersal of pathogens causing a series of health risk that affect the animals themselves, staff and local people and food quality. The health factor is crucial: the epidemiology of most animal diseases (including zoonoses) is linked to farm waste management. In many cases, the pathogens are found to persist in the effluents and manures for weeks or even months. This is also likely to be the case with avian flu: the bird droppings being a major transmission mechanism.

Project components

Project partners

Association for Technology and
Structures in Agriculture (project coordinator)
Research Centre for Animal ProductionCRPAItaly
ID-Lelystad, "ASG Veehouderij BV" Animal Sciences Group,
The Netherlands
Danish Agricultural Advisory Service,
National Centre
PigCHAMP Pro Europa S.A.PigCHAMPSpain
Institute of agricultural engineering IBMERIBMERPoland
French Institute of Agricultural and
Environmental Engineering Research
Research Institute of Agriculture EngineeringVUZTCzech Republic
Swiss College of AgricultureSHLSwitzerland
AgroTech-Institute for Agro Technology and Food InnovationATDenmark

The views and opinions expressed in this website are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.