Direct Measurements of Methane Emissions from a Dairy Lagoon in Northeast Colorado

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Methane (CH4) emissions from cattle feedlots and dairies could represent a large component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory.  A significant source of CH4 is anaerobic lagoons used to store and process manure slurries.  Understanding these systems is a crucial step in quantifying the carbon budgets of livestock operations.  New open-path CH4 analyzers provide a method for measuring CH4 emissions from waste lagoons on a near continuous basis.  The resulting data will help to better quantify GHG emissions related to beef and milk production. At a commercial dairy in northeastern Colorado during 2011 – 2012, emissions of CH4 were measured at the on-site waste lagoon (3.1-ha) using a micrometeorological measurement technique called eddy covariance (EC). The only method to directly measure fluxes of energy and trace gases at the field-scale, EC is widely utilized around the globe to quantify carbon and water budgets for a variety of ecosystems and landscapes. Methane fluxes peaked around 7 mol m^-2 d^-1 in mid- to late-summer 2012, with much variability from Jul – Oct (5 +/- 1.4 mol m^-2 d^-1). Yearly carbon budgets for the release of methane from the lagoon will be examined as well.


Kira Shonkwiler, Colorado State University, Dept of Atmospheric Science    

Dr. Jay Ham, Colorado State University, Dept of Soil and Crop Sciences, Christina Williams, Colorado State University, Dept of Soil and Crop Sciences


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