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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Livestock Nutrient Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #413180

Research Project: Strategies to Manage Feed Nutrients, Reduce Gas Emissions, and Promote Soil Health for Beef and Dairy Cattle Production Systems of the Southern Great Plains

Location: Livestock Nutrient Management Research

Title: Use of new technology to measure methane emissions

item THOMPSON, LOGAN - Kansas State University
item Beck, Matthew - Matt

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2024
Publication Date: 5/4/2024
Citation: Thompson, L.R., Beck, M.R. 2024. Use of new technology to measure methane emissions [abstract]. Journal of Animal Science. 102(S2):220-221.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Over recent decades, the impact of human-induced climate change and the role of ruminant agriculture has been of growing concern for both the public and the scientific community. This has led to rapid advancements in technology needed to measure methane emissions accurately and precisely. Primarily, these advancements have been focused on measurements of enteric methane, with the proliferation of GreenFeed emission measurement systems (GEM; C-Lock, Inc; Rapid City, SD) being utilized by animal scientists across the world. The GEM relies on spot measurements collected in a portable head-box, either in a freestall or on a trailer. The GEM uses bait feed to entice animals to place their head into the head-box to collect measurements. Use of respiration chambers or head-boxes are still considered the “gold standard”, but the GEM allows for quantification in production environments and with greater number of animals. While enteric emissions are the primary source of methane from ruminant agriculture, manure methane emissions account for 15.8% of direct emissions from cattle in the U.S. This emission source is a significant contributor to confined feeding operations’ greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), where consolidation and changes in manure handling practices have occurred over the last several decades. From 2010 to 2020, manure methane emissions were a larger contributor to climate warming than enteric methane (90.8 MMT CO2-we vs. 89.2 MMT CO2-we, respectively) when calculated using the new GWP* metric. However, little advancements have been made in quantifying emissions from manure, with the cost-effective static chamber methodology still widely utilized. This technique allows for the determination of temporal gas concentration change in a known volume of air with a PVC cylinder, inserted 5-10 cm in the soil and posteriorly closed with a PVC lid to generate “known volume” headspace. However, this method does have known limitations on spatial and temporal flux calculations. These limitations include: the PVC chamber may alter the soil microenvironment thereby altering soil GHG flux estimates; they have potential for technician bias; and are short term monitoring, limiting interpretations to that snapshot in time and making comparisons across experiments difficult. Differing measuring techniques, such as eddy covariance, dual-comb and spectroscopy, that more accurately and precisely monitor the soil-atmosphere interface may help better understand gas fluxes from livestock systems.