Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 2, 2009
Publication Date: March 3, 2009
Citation: Dell, C.J. 2009. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Pasture [abstract]. Northeast Pasture Consortium. p.1. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane are the primary greenhouse gases associated with global climate change. Livestock production’s contribution to carbon dioxide emissions is minimal, but it is a substantial contributor to both nitrous oxide and methane emissions. In both grazing and confinement livestock production, the largest quantity of methane is produced by the animals during enteric fermentation. Methane is also emitted from freshly deposited dung in pastures, but those emissions are countered by methane uptake by microorganisms in soils. In grazing systems, the primary source of nitrous oxide are emissions from soils that receive urine. High nitrogen concentrations in urine lead to nitrous oxide emissions from urine spots that are hundreds of times greater than from unaffected soils, however fresh urine spots generally account for only one to two percent of the pasture surface area. Nitrogen fertilizer application can also increase nitrous oxide production. While nitrous oxide and methane emissions from grazed pasture are unavoidable, management can influence losses. Maintaining high forage quality can reduce methane production during enteric fermentation. Since nitrous oxide production is greatest in wet soils, avoiding grazing usually wet areas in pasture can reduce nitrous oxide emissions. If nitrogen fertilizers are applied, splitting applications can also reduce nitrous oxide emissions.