Evaluating dispersion modelling options to estimate methane emissions from grazing beef cattle.

McGinn, S.M., Flesch, T.K., Coates, T., Charmley, E., Chen, D., Bai, M., and Bishop-Hurley, G. (2015). "Evaluating dispersion modelling options to estimate methane emissions from grazing beef cattle.", Journal of Environmental Quality, 44(1), pp. 97-102. doi : 10.2134/jeq2014.06.0275  Access to full text

Abstract

Enteric methane (CH4) emission from cattle is a source of greenhouse gas and is an energy loss that contributes to production inefficiency for cattle. Direct measurements of enteric CH4 emissions are useful to quantify the magnitude and variation and to evaluate mitigation of this important greenhouse gas source. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the impact of stocking density of cattle and source configuration (i.e., point source vs. area source and elevation of area source) on CH4 emissions from grazing beef cattle in Queensland, Australia. This was accomplished using nonintrusive atmospheric measurements and a gas dispersion model. The average measured CH4 emission for the point and area source was between 240 and 250 g animal-1 d-1 over the entire study. There was no difference (P > 0.05) in emission when using an elevated area source (0.5 m) or a ground area source (0 m). For the point-source configuration, there was a difference in CH4 emission due to stocking density; likewise, some differences existed for the area-source emissions. This study demonstrates the flexibility of the area-source configuration of the dispersion model to estimate CH4 emissions even at a low stocking density.

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