Dairy farmers reclaim sweet smelling country air with smarter muck-spreading methods
Those living in rural areas and day trippers to the British countryside will be familiar with the pungent aroma lingering in the air after a farmer has been out muck-spreading – often ironically referred to as ‘that fresh country air’, it’s the by-product of the natural cow-poo, or slurry, used as fertilizer.
However, a growing number of farmers are using more environmentally-friendly spreading techniques and in doing so, helping to reclaim the idea of ‘fresh country air’ and making it altogether sweeter smelling.
Now Arla, the farmer-owned dairy cooperative, is looking to bottle the scent of this fresher country air, to help people smell the benefits of these increasingly used muck-spreading techniques. A new limited-edition room fragrance will be released to recreate the sweet yet earthy aroma of country meadows to homes around the country… without the added element of pungent poo!
Created in partnership with fragrance experts CPL Aromas, the scent is a delicate blend of grasses, nettles, tree sap and a gentle sweetness of straw and is available as a reed diffuser to gently bring the new definition of ‘fresh country air’ into homes around the UK.
The move is also designed to inspire more dairy farmers to explore alternative forms of spreading the nutrient-rich slurry across their land. These environmentally friendly techniques avoid leaving ammonia and other smelly gasses suspended in the air, as is the case with the traditional ‘spreading’ method.
Instead, techniques such as dribble bars or even injecting the slurry directly into the ground with specialist equipment can lead to a reduction in air-born emissions of between 30 and 90 per cent*, which makes a noticeable difference to the smell of the air. These alternative techniques also have additional environmental benefits as they place the slurry directly onto or into the ground, leading the nutrients within it to be pulled further into the soil, enriching it with nitrogen and also stopping nitrous oxide from being leaked into the atmosphere.
One Arla farmer exploring these alternative techniques, Jason Bayley, explains: “Manure handling typically contributes towards a dairy farm’s emissions, so anything we can do to reduce that amount by using alternative ways to spread the nutrient-rich manure across the land, then it feels like an obvious option to explore. I must also say, even though I’m used to the smell of manure after all these years, I do notice it’s fresher around the fields when the slurry has been put directly into the ground!”
Ben Fogle, well-known countryside Broadcaster who visited Jason’s farm to find out more tells us “While that whiff of cow poo in the air after muck spreading takes me back to day trips out with my family as a kid, I must admit the benefits of these more environmentally-friendly methods do more than make up for the loss in nostalgia. It’s great to know that the agricultural community is always looking at ways to become more sustainable.”
Angela Stavrevska, Creative Perfumer at CPL Aromas said: “I’m delighted to be a part of Arla’s first ever home fragrance and pay homage to fresh country air. Many associate the countryside with the pungent smell of muck, but with this initiative, the wonderful fragrance of the countryside, including damp woodland, dry grassy fields, overgrown hedges and moss can now really be smelt in all their glory.”
The potential impact such on-farm changes can have on the environment is why Arla is helping farmers monitor and share best practice on their collective journey to carbon net zero. The farmer-owned cooperative’s Climate Checks initiative means farmers are monitoring their impact on the environment so they can identify areas to improve. What’s more, Arla is sharing vital information and learnings on this and other sustainability initiatives with all of their 2,400 farmers in a helpful guide, helping to make the fresh country air even fresher for everyone.