Shrinking cattle stock resulting in less nitrogen emissions

The number of cows, bulls and calves in the Netherlands decreased by 3 percent this year to 3.8 million, Statistics Netherlands reported on Friday based on the provisional figures from the Agricultural Census. "That is really extremely beneficial for the nitrogen dossier",Cor Pierik, agricultural economist at Statistics Netherlands, said to RTL Nieuws.

The reduction in the number of cattle stock is the result of measures taken in 2016 to reduce the number of dairy cows and thereby phosphate. Last year almost 40 percent of the nitrogen emissions in agriculture came from cattle stock - cows, bulls and calves. Now that the stock is shrinking, these emissions will also fall. Statistics Netherlands did not calculate by how much. 

Two thirds of the cattle in the Netherlands can be found in Gelderland, Noord-Brabant, Overijssel and Friesland. In Noord-Brabant the number of cattle decreased the most, by 5 percent or 30 thousand cows, calves and bulls.

The pig population in the Netherlands also shrank, by 2 percent to 12 million. Half of all pigs in the Netherlands are kept in Noord-Brabant, where the number of pigs decreased slightly faster, by 3 percent.

While there are fewer pigs and cattle in the Netherlands, the number of goats are increasing. This year the Netherlands counts 614 thousand goats, 4.5 percent more than a year earlier. In the summer of 2017 Gelderland and Noord-Brabant ordered a halt to the increasing goat populations, due to a fear of health risks. But this year the number of goats in these provinces increased by 6 percent and 2 percent respectively.