The operation of a farm is associated with certain nuisances for the local community. They are a frequent source of conflict between the farm and its neighbours, as they can negatively affect the wellbeing of local residents. It is also important that the farmer uses the land in accordance with the law and that the purchase of land or its lease is not at the expense of the local community. Land acquisition should follow clear, transparent rules that do not harm the interests of local residents and do not raise doubts in the local community about the intentions of the purchaser or tenant.
Among the most problematic environmental and human health nuisances associated with agricultural activity are:
- air pollution,
- water pollution,
- hazardous waste.
Noise – sources of noise include agricultural tractors, vehicles and self-propelled agricultural machinery, fans, refrigeration units, compressors, grinders, mixers, feeders, automatic watering lines or pumps operating irrigation equipment. All of these pieces of equipment can emit noise far in excess of acceptable levels. To ensure adequate acoustic conditions in the environment, the following rules must be observed:
- locate noise-emitting facilities and machinery away from areas requiring acoustic comfort and make use of natural barriers to noise, such as woodland, hills and buildings,
- select machinery and equipment with the lowest possible sound power,
- take care of the technical condition of agricultural machinery and equipment,
- use sound insulation and anti-vibration protection in buildings or structures, as well as silencers to muffle the operation of machinery and equipment.
Air pollution- agriculture emits dust, fumes, odour substances and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides, ammonia into the air.
Dust is generated by agricultural machinery, transport, dusty fertilisers, harvesting and wind erosion. In order to prevent dust formation, it is necessary to carry out field work with optimal soil moisture, to avoid using dusty fertilisers or to prevent dust formation by storing and applying fertilisers in the field under windless conditions. Vegetative cover should also be applied to the soil surface as long as possible during the year.
Fumes – are generated by the incineration of waste generated on the farm and are a source of many toxic substances that poison the air. The waste management plan should therefore be modified to avoid contaminating the environment and the surroundings in which people live. It should take into account the following practices:
- composting of waste that is suitable for reuse on the farm,
- burning only those wastes that cannot be managed otherwise,
- transfer of rubber and plastic waste to appropriate storage and incineration sites,
- purchasing articles in packaging that is not harmful to the environment through its biodegradation process,
- lighting of necessary bonfires only away from buildings and roads,
- abandoning bonfires in prolonged drought and windy weather,
- returning the packaging of plant protection products to their distributor,
- abandoning the burning of crop residues and straw, which can be used as organic fertiliser to replenish organic matter in the soil.
Odorous substances – these enter the air mainly from livestock buildings, from improperly stored feed (concentrates and silage) or animal excreta, and during the spreading of manure, slurry or dung in the field. The way to reduce odour emissions is:
- maintaining adequate hygiene in livestock buildings,
- storing fodder (silage) properly protected or in sealed containers,
- refraining from disposing of silage juices in fields adjacent to built-up areas and in the vicinity of surface water courses/reservoirs,
- equipping livestock buildings with an adequate ventilation system,
- the application of manure in the field no later than 24 hours after spreading,
- Intra-soil application of liquid manure, slurry or application within 24 hours of spillage in the field.
Greenhouse gases methane, ammonia and nitrogen oxides are present in the gases released during livestock production, and are also released during the uptake of fertilisers in the soil and from the soil itself. In contrast, the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions are agricultural fuels and the burning of redundant vegetation in fields. While it is difficult to counteract the release of methane into the air, to reduce the release of other greenhouse gases it is necessary to:
- adapt nitrogen fertiliser doses to the actual needs of the plants,
- plough the manure or slurry no later than 24 hours after spreading on the field,
- do not burn unnecessary vegetation and crop residues,
- reduce fuel consumption and maintain the technical condition of agricultural machinery and equipment,
- use renewable energy sources for heating.
Water pollution – its agricultural source can be fertilisers, plant protection products and fuels. In order to prevent this pollution, care must be taken where they are stored in order to avoid possible uncontrolled leakage. Fertilisers and plant protection products should be applied in a precise manner, in doses that correspond to the current needs of the plants and soil, and in compliance with the regulations in force.
Hazardous waste – the largest group of this waste is empty packaging of pesticides, used oils, used batteries, fluorescent tubes, batteries, and waste animal tissue with hazardous properties. These should be stored in specially designated areas and collected by specialised companies.
16.4.1 Organic fertilisation
Both manure and slurry should be taken to the field in windless conditions, preferably on cool and cloudy days, so that the odours do not spread far. These fertilisers should be mixed into the soil as quickly as possible to prevent the spreading of odours as well as losses of volatilised nitrogen, within 24 hours at the latest. Manure is ploughed to a depth depending on the nature of the soil to prevent it decomposing too slowly or too quickly. Slurry, on the other hand, is best applied by means of barrels directly under the soil surface (subsoiling). This prevents the escape of odours, nitrogen losses and also prevents the possibility of run-off, in the event of heavy rainfall.
16.4.2 Livestock buildings
In order to reduce the amount of odorous substances released into the air from livestock buildings, it is necessary to maintain a high level of hygiene indoors and to keep the surrounding area clean. Buildings housing animals should have an efficient ventilation system. This allows them to maintain adequate air temperature, humidity and gas/odour concentrations at levels that do not endanger the health and well-being of the animals or people in the vicinity. The following practices should be followed in the hygiene of livestock buildings:
- remove slurry / manure from buildings daily,
- ensure the cleanliness of paved surfaces inside and outside buildings,
- ensure that the automatic drinkers are in working order,
- in barn stalls sufficient straw must be provided to avoid soiling of the animals,
- carry out periodic disinfection and disinsectisation of livestock housing,
- keep the milk room and milking apparatus hygienic.
The degree of odour dispersal from livestock buildings is also influenced by the location of the ventilation system outlet. The higher it is located, the less odours are perceived by the surrounding area.
16.4.3 Plant protection and mineral fertilisation
Drift of the spray used to carry out a plant protection measure can result in contamination of the areas adjacent to the field to be protected and also reduce the effectiveness of the treatment itself. Drift rates are affected by atmospheric and technical factors. How to safely manage these is described in Area 8: PLANT PROTECTION, under 8.17 Carrying out a protection measure.
Mineral fertilisers should only go onto the farmland for which they were intended, so that their impact on the surrounding environment is minimised. Some having a dusty form when applied incorrectly can become a major nuisance to the local community. See more in Area 12: AIR AND GAS EMISSIONS, under 12.14 Air pollution from agricultural chemicals.
16.4.4 Topsoil dust
Wind erosion is the blowing away of the topsoil. Its particles contaminate the air and water, carrying with them minerals, organic matter and residues from plant protection products. Particulate and sandy soils are the most vulnerable to this phenomenon. In order to limit the effects of wind erosion, which is also a nuisance for neighbouring houses, it is necessary to:
- keep the soil under plant cover,
- establish and maintain mid-field shelterbelts and shrubbery,
- do not allow crop ‘layering’ due to over-fertilisation or lack of adequate chemical protection,
- in areas particularly prone to winter wind erosion, it is advisable to use no-till cultivation.
For more on this topic, see Area 12, Air and greenhouse gas emissions, in section 12.15, Air pollution.
Noise is an environmental pollutant that has accompanied human life for thousands of years, and since the industrial revolution its impact has become widespread. Noise, understood as a nuisance emitted into the environment, can have a negative impact on human health and significantly reduce the comfort of life. The basic legal act regulating issues related to the protection of the environment from noise is the Environmental Protection Law 2017. Issues related to the occurrence of noise are also regulated in other legal acts such as:
- Act of 7 July 1994 – Building Law;
- Law of 23 March 2003 on spatial planning and development;
- Act of 20 July 1991 on Environmental Protection Inspection.
It is recognised that the most harmful to health is the so-called environmental noise that surrounds us everywhere, and its annoyance is the result of its constant impact on the body. It is difficult to find places where there are no noise-generating devices. This also applies to rural areas, where there is a seasonal increase in its level, linked to the use of agricultural machinery and the constant noise caused by traffic.
For rural areas, the Minister for the Environment has set acceptable noise standards for daytime and night-time. At night, the noise limit is 45dB (noise intensity between the noise in the office and the murmurs in the house), during the day only 55dB (noise intensity between the sound of a hoover and the noise in the office). In undeveloped rural areas, different noise standards apply due to the protection of workers’ health. If the noise level is constant at all times and higher than 85 dB, the working time in this noise should be less than eight hours (but note: it is not permissible, even for a short period of time, to work in noise levels exceeding 115 dB). If the noise level fluctuates and is above 85 dB during certain periods of time then it should be below 85 dB during other periods of working time. The so-called noise exposure level is calculated on the basis of the noise level and the duration of its effect on a person. This means that it is not always forbidden to work in noise if the instantaneous value of the noise level is higher than 85 dB, because by acting for a short time the noise exposure level will not be exceeded. However, when the noise level exceeds 85 dB for an extended period of time, it is reasonable to assume that the noise limit values for the working day may be exceeded.
Examples of noise intensity in agriculture
|120 dB||Fully loaded tractor|
|105 dB||In the barn at the operation of feed dispensers, fans, etc.|
|105 dB||Tractor at full speed|
|97.9 dB||Tractor with orchard sprayer|
|97.5 dB||Caterpillar tractor|
|96.8 dB||Tractor with high-density baler|
|95 dB||Tractor without cab|
|90.4 dB||Tractor with forage harvester|
|93.4 dB||Cascade grain dryer|
|93 dB||Orchard sprayer|
|92.3 dB||Roller grinder/crusher for feed preparation|
|91.7 dB||Beet harvester|
|91.1 dB||Tractor with disc mower|
|81 dB||Tractor with cab|
|45 dB||In the barn with technological equipment switched off|