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Title: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Dairy Farms

item Rotz, Clarence - Al

Submitted to: Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE)
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/12/2007
Publication Date: 6/18/2007
Citation: Sedorovich, D.M., Rotz, C.A., Richard, T.L. 2007. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Dairy Farms. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE). Paper No. 074096, St. Joseph, MI: ASABE.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is becoming more important world-wide. Although research suggests that farm land can serve as a sink for carbon, animal production is also an important source of emissions. Thus, strategies must be designed to reduce or eliminate net emissions of greenhouse gases. Before these strategies can be developed, we must first understand typical emission ranges from each source at the farm level in order to focus on the processes with the greatest emissions. Sources on dairy farms include soil, growing crops, feed storage, animals, and manure in animal housing facilities, during storage, and following field application. Other countries, particularly in Europe, have 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 literature review was conducted to determine the major processes contributing to greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms and to quantify typical emission levels. From these typical levels, net emissions were estimated for a representative dairy farm. Using average emissions converted to CO2 equivalents, the representative farm had a net annual emission of 993 Mg CO2 with 63% coming from animals and their housing facility, 30% from the manure storage, and the remainder as the net emission in crop production. This review will help direct modeling efforts by determining the important physical processes that drive emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in dairy production, and it will contribute to the knowledge base of researchers, farm planners, and policymakers as they work to develop and maintain sustainable farming systems.