Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM adopts new measures to mitigate ammonia emissions from agriculture

HELCOM has just adopted a new Recommendation, following Article 20, Paragraph 1b of the Helsinki Convention, aimed at mitigating ammonia emissions from agricultural practices. This aligns with the 1992 Helsinki Convention’s overall commitment to preventing and eliminating pollution to the Baltic Sea from land-based sources. 

Ammonia (NH3) is a significant environmental pollutant, originating primarily from agricultural activities, such as fertilisation and animal farming. When released into the environment, ammonia can contribute to the formation of particulate matter and eutrophication, leading to harmful algal blooms and oxygen dead zones in aquatic ecosystems like the Baltic Sea. Reducing ammonia emissions is crucial for maintaining a healthy Baltic marine environment as well as clean air, making its reduction a priority for environmental policy. 

The Recommendation emphasises the need for integrated sustainable nitrogen management, such as urging the use of nitrogen budgeting tools. A crucial step will be to adapt protein content in livestock diet, to avoid unnecessary excess excretion of nitrogen via faeces and urine.  

The Recommendation also states that animal housing techniques should include frequent manure removal and the use of ammonia-absorbing materials to avoid ammonia volatilisation into the air. Additionally, to avoid this volatilisation, manure storage, covering storages and encouraging manure acidification is advised. In the field, fertilisers should be applied using low-emission techniques and sustainable grazing practices should be promoted to also reduce ammonia emissions. 

Monitoring these ammonia emissions and supporting research to optimise nitrogen management and assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures are also crucial components of the Recommendation. For this, Contracting Parties are required to report actions to the Commission in 2027 and every four years thereafter.  

HELCOM acknowledges the urgent need to address the persisting problem of excess ammonia emissions, and this recommendation serves as a vital step towards ecological restoration and an overall healthier Baltic Sea environment. 

The full Recommendation can be found here: Rec-42-43-5.pdf (