The livestock sector now has a piece of innovative software enabling farmers to make an accurate environmental assessment of their farms. The computing tool known as Batfarm has been developed jointly by the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development NEIKER-Tecnalia, INTIA (Navarre), IRSTEA (France), TEAGASC (Ireland), the Higher Institute of Agronomy of Portugal, and Glasgow Caledonian University (Scotland).
The software has been developed as part of the European Batfarm project, funded by the IIIB-Atlantic Area Interreg Programme and entitled “Assessing the best techniques available for cutting air and water pollution on livestock farms”. Batfarm has been led by Dr Pilar Merino, a NEIKER-Tecnalia researcher.
Batfarm software makes it possible to simulate the effect of a range of strategies designed to mitigate pollution on livestock farms dedicated to pigs, laying hens and poultry meat, and dairy cows. The tool allows different scenarios on each farm to be compared and thus helps to select the most suitable environmental strategy in each case. The software covers all the phases in the production system: animal housing, storage, treatment and field application of manures and slurries.
The most important strategies in livestock management are considered in the Batfarm software. They feature nutrition strategies (adjusting of protein and phosphorus, feeding in phases), the design of housing (types of housing, flooring and deep ditch), and the management of manure and slurry storage (emptying system, type of cover, additives). Upgrading treatments (drying, separating of solids from liquids, aerobic treatment, methanization, composting), systems for field application (injection, incorporation) and other good practices specified by the users themselves are added to these components.
The main calculations made by the computing tool are feed, water and energy consumption; animal production (live weight, eggs, meat, milk); ammonia, nitrous oxide and methane emissions; the production and composition of manures and slurries; and the nutrients applied to the soil (pastures or agricultural soils). These measurements offer the possibility of comparing different situations.
To make these calculations, Batfarm uses default and regionalised values relating to zootechnical and climate data and emission factors. The computing programme is geared towards standard and advanced users. The latter can modify the values used by the software.
The Batfarm application can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.intiasa.es/es/batfarm-software. All the manuals and tutorials needed to use it correctly can be obtained together with the download.