Livestock Methane Emissions Estimated and Mapped at a County-level Scale for the Contiguous United States


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Purpose         

This analysis of methane emissions used a “bottom-up” approach based on animal inventories, feed dry matter intake, and emission factors to estimate county-level enteric (cattle) and manure (cattle, swine, and poultry) methane emissions for the contiguous United States.

What did we do? 

Methane emissions from enteric and manure sources were estimated on a county-level and placed on a map for the lower 48 states of the US. Enteric emissions were estimated as the product of animal population, feed dry matter intake (DMI), and emissions per unit of DMI. Manure emission estimates were calculated using published US EPA protocols and factors. National Agricultural Statistic Services (NASS) data was utilized to provide animal populations. Cattle values were estimated for every county in the 48 contiguous states of the United States. Swine and poultry estimates were conducted on a county basis for states with the highest populations of each species and on a state-level for less populated states. Estimates were placed on county-level maps to help visual identification of methane emission ‘hot spots’. Estimates from this project were compared with those published by the EPA, and to the European Environmental Agency’s Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).

What have we learned? 

Overall, the bottom-up approach used in this analysis yielded total livestock methane emissions (8,888 Gg/yr) that are comparable to current USEPA estimates (9,117 Gg/yr) and to estimates from the global gridded
EDGAR inventory (8,657 Gg/yr), used previously in a number of top-down studies. However, the
spatial distribution of emissions developed in this analysis differed significantly from that of
EDGAR.

Methane emissions from manure sources vary widely and research on this subject is needed. US EPA maximum methane generation potential estimation values are based on research published from 1976 to 1984, and may not accurately reflect modern rations and management standards. While some current research provides methane emission data, a literature review was unable to provide emission generation estimators that could replace EPA values across species, animal categories within species, and variations in manure handling practices.

Future Plans    

This work provides tabular data as well as a visual distribution map of methane emission estimates from enteric (cattle) and manure (cattle, swine, poultry) sources. Future improvement of products from this project is possible with improved manure methane emission data and refinements of factors used within the calculations of the project.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation        

Robert Meinen, Senior Extension Associate, Penn State University Department of Animal Science

Corresponding author email    

rjm134@psu.edu

Other authors   

Alexander Hristov (Principal Investigator), Professor of Dairy Nutrition, Penn State University Department of Animal Science Michael Harper, Graduate Assistant, Penn State University Department of Animal Science Richard Day, Associate Professor of Soil

Additional information                

None.

Acknowledgements       

Funding for this project was provided by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Methane Mitigation Strategies for Dairy Herds


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Purpose 

The U.S. dairy industry has committed to lowering the carbon footprint of milk production by 25% by 2020. A key factor in meeting this goal is reducing enteric greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which represent about 51% of the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk. Methane (CH4) is the primary GHG emitted by dairy cows. Total methane emissions represented 10.6% of the total U.S. GHG emissions in 2014. Enteric CH4 emissions were 22.5% of the total methane emissions. Methane emissions from dairy cattle were 5.7% of total U.S. methane emissions or 0.6% of all U.S. GHG emissions. The purpose of this project was to examine nutrition and management options to lower methane emissions from dairy cattle.

What did we do?

This project utilized a number of approaches. One was to develop a base ration using the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) model to evaluate the impact of level of dry matter intake and milk production on methane emissions. A second approach was to compile a database of commercial herd rations from 199 dairy farms. This database was used to examine relationships between the feeding program and CH4 emissions. A third component was to utilize published review papers to estimate potential on-farm CH4 reductions based on research data.

What have we learned? 

A base ration developed in the CNCPS model was evaluated at milk production levels ranging from 40 to 120 pounds of milk. As milk production increased, CH4 emissions increased from 373 to 509 grams/cow/day. This is primarily due to increasing levels of dry matter intake as milk production increases. However, the CH4 emissions per pound of milk decreased from 9.32 to 4.24 g as milk production increased. The 199 commercial herd database had an average input milk of 83.7 pounds per day with a range from 50 to 128 pounds. Daily dry matter intake (DMI) averaged 51.4 pounds with a range of 35.2 to 69.8. Simple correlations were run between CH4 emissions and ration components. Dry matter intake had a positive (0.795) correlation with CH4 emissions (g/day). However, the correlation between DMI and CH4/pound of milk was -0.65. These results agree with published research on the relationship of DMI and CH4 emissions. Starch intake also had a positive correlation (0.328) while percent ration starch was negatively correlated (-0.27) with CH4 emissions. There was also a positive correlation (0.79) between the pounds of NDF intake and CH4 emissions.

A review paper indicated that the maximum potential reduction in CH4 emissions by altering rations was 15% (Knapp et. al., 2014). Projected reductions from genetic selection, rumen modifiers and other herd management practices were 18, 5 and 18% in this same paper. The reduction by combining all approaches was estimated to be 30%. A second review paper listed mitigation strategies as low, medium or high (Hristov et. al. 2013). Potential reductions for the low group was <10% while the medium group was 10-30%. The high group had >30% potential to lower CH4 emissions. Ionophores, grazing management and feed processing were in the low group. Improving forage quality, feeding additional grain and precision feeding were in the low to medium group. Rumen inhibitors were listed in the low to high group. No items were listed only in the high group. These results provide guidance in terms of items to concentrate on at the farm level to reduce methane emissions.

Future Plans 

The number of commercial herds in the database will be expanded to increase the types of rations represented and the simple correlations run. In addition, a multiple regression approach will be used to better understand the relationships of ration components and CH4 emissions. Whole herd data will be obtained and examined to determine the proportion of the total herd CH4 emissions contributed by the various animal groups. The CNCPS program will also be used on rations at constant DMI to better understand the impact of specific ration components on CH4 emissions. These results of these will permit a more defined and targeted approach to adjusting rations to decrease CH4 emissions.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation        

Dr. Larry E. Chase, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Animal Science, Cornell University

Corresponding author email     

lec7@cornell.edu

Additional information               

Hristov A.N., J. Oh, J.L. Firkins, J. Dijkstra, E. Kebreab, G. Waghorn, H.P.S. Makkar, A.T. Adesogan, W. Yang, C. Lee, P.J. Gerber, B. Henderson and J.M. Tricarico. 2013. Mitigation of methane and nitrous oxide emissions from animal operations: I. Review of enteric methane mitigation options. J. Anim. Sci. 91:5045-5069.

Knapp J.R., G.L. Laur, P.A. Vadas, W.P. Weiss an d J.M. Tricarico. 2014. Enteric methane in dairy cattle production: Quantifying the opportunities and impact of reducing emissions. J. Dairy Sci. 97:3231-3261.

Acknowledgements       

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture U.S. Department of Agriculture under award number 2013-68002-20525. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.