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Title: Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms

item Rotz, Clarence - Al

Submitted to: Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2006
Publication Date: 2/8/2007
Citation: Sedorovich, D.M., Rotz, C.A. 2007. Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms. In: Proceedings College of Engineering Research Symposium, College of Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 2007. CDROM..

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is becoming more important throughout the world. As a result, scientists and policymakers have sought cost-effective methods of reducing global emissions. One such proposed method is to sequester carbon in soil, particularly land used for agriculture. This proposal neglects an important limitation: Although research suggests that farm land can serve as a sink for carbon, agriculture is also a source of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, rather than focusing on emissions of an individual gas, reduction strategies should be designed to reduce or eliminate net emissions of greenhouse gases. Within the agricultural sector, there are many sources of emissions including soil, growing crops, feed storage, animals, and manure in animal housing facilities, during storage, and following field application. Before reduction strategies can be developed and implemented, typical emission ranges from each source must be determined at the farm level in order to focus on the processes with the greatest emissions. Research in other countries, particularly in Europe, has quantified emission ranges. These data are less established within the U.S. although, as a sector, agriculture is reported to be the greatest contributor of nitrous oxide and the third greatest contributor of methane. An extensive review of the literature was conducted to determine typical emission levels, and to determine the major factors affecting greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms. This paper provides typical ranges identified from literature and discusses factors that impact emissions. This review will direct modeling efforts by identifying the important physical processes that drive emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in dairy production. In addition, this paper contributes to the knowledge base of researchers, farm planners, and policymakers as they work to develop and maintain sustainable farming systems.