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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338560

Research Project: Mitigating Emissions and Adapting Farm Systems to Climate Variability

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Modeling greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms

Author
item Rotz, Clarence - Al

Submitted to: American Dairy Science Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2017
Publication Date: 11/15/2017
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2017. Modeling greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science.101:1-16. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13272.

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this Abstract. JLB.

Technical Abstract: Evaluation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms requires a comprehensive approach that integrates the impacts and interactions of all important sources and sinks. This approach requires some form of modeling. Types of models commonly used include empirical emission factors, process-based emission factors and process-level simulation. If properly applied, each type can be useful in evaluating dairy farm emissions. Important emission sources include the animal, manure in the housing facility, manure storage, pasture and cropland soil, and machinery operations. Important gases emitted are methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane and N2O are normally converted to CO2 equivalents using a global warming index and summed with anthropogenic CO2 to get a total net emission. From a global warming perspective, enteric CH4 from the animals is normally the major dairy farm source followed by manure storage emissions and soil emissions during feed crop production. Emissions from a free stall barn are small, but those from open lots or bedded pack facilities become more important. Manure storage is often an important source where storage type, manure dry matter content and temperature have a major effect on the amount and form of emissions. Nitrous oxide emissions from pasture and cropland can also be important due to the high global warming potential of this gas. These emissions are related to temperature and the nitrogen and moisture contents of the soil. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fuel combustion and lime decomposition are relatively small compared to other sources, but they are still important. Ammonia is also an important emission. It is not a greenhouse gas, but some of the ammonia and nitrates lost to the environment are transformed to N2O providing an indirect emission source. For a full accounting, emissions occurring during the production of resources used on the farm, such as fuel, electricity, fertilizer and feed, must also be considered. Models representing the integration of these sources have become important tools for assessing best management practices to mitigate dairy farm emissions.