In the Farmers and Neighbors (“Boeren en Buren” in Dutch)  project, livestock farmers, residents, and the municipality of Venray, under the supervision of  RIVM Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu), jointly measure air quality. The project is one of the few projects where the Measure Together Team is fully in the lead; we want to learn from this project that takes place in a rural area with intensive agriculture, creating a specific type of tension in the community. 

The project aims to: 1. gain insight into the concentrations of air pollutants and the contribution of sources in a rural area, 2. investigate to what extent joint measurement of air quality and perceived odor nuisance can increase trust between farmers, residents and the local government and facilitate the discussion about local solutions.  

Marita Voogt (RIVM) geeft uitleg over de metingen

Measuring together 

Residents near livestock farms experience odor nuisance and are concerned about their health. They want more insight into the concentrations of air pollutants to which they are exposed and the contribution of local sources. Farmers want more insight into the emissions from their stables and the extent to which this contributes to concentrations in the living environment. They have an interest in better monitoring of their emissions, to be able to adjust their daily business operations to reduce their emissions. In Venray, these questions come together in the Farmers and Neighbors project. In addition to the farmers and residents, the municipality of Venray and the province of Limburg are participating in the project.  

NH3 buisje data Boeren en Buren

Monthly values of NH3 measured with Palmes tubes

Measurements  

The project started in March 2019, when the participating parties worked out a research plan. The participants wanted to gain insight into particulate matter, ammonia, and odors around sources such as livestock farming, but also traffic. We used PM2.5 sensors to measure particulate matter, and passive samplers (tubes) for ammonia and nitrogen dioxide. Odor is difficult to measure. The participants measure odor with their own nose and report this via a specially developed mobile app, the Farmers and Neighbors Odor app.  

The measurements started in October 2019 at several places in Venray. The measurements were available via the Samen Meten data portal. On October 28, 2020, the measurements ended.  

Results  

In March 2021,  RIVM Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu) presented the research results in an online webinar to all participants, including the municipality. To come to joint conclusions a physical meeting with all participants, including farmers, local residents and the municipality was necessary. Due to corona, this meeting was postponed until 7 July 2021. The participants discussed the results together, working towards new insights and common conclusions. In the autumn of 2021, a final meeting with participants is foreseen, in which solutions for less air pollution will be discussed, either through municipal policy or through actions farmers and residents can take themselves.   

Trust  

For research into the effect of the project on the mutual relationships between livestock farmers, local residents and the municipality, RIVM will conduct interviews and is issuing a questionnaire among participants and non-participants. The results of this study are expected in the course of 2022.