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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Methane Emissions from Grazing Cattle Using Point-Source Dispersion


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 1, p. 22-27
    Received: May 26, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): sean.mcginn@agr.gc.ca
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  1. S. M. McGinn *a,
  2. D. Turnerb,
  3. N. Tomkinsce,
  4. E. Charmleyce,
  5. G. Bishop-Hurleyd and
  6. D. Chenb
  1. a Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada, 5403–1 Ave. South, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1J 4B1
    b Univ. of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    c CSIRO, Livestock Industries, J.M. Rendel Lab., Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
    e present address: CSIRO Livestock Industries, Davis Lab., Townsville, QLD, Australia. Assigned to Associate Editor Barbara Amon
    d CSIRO, Pulenvale, Queensland, Australia


The ability to accurately measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is essential to gauge our ability to reduce these emissions. Enteric methane from ruminants is an important but often difficult source to quantify since it depends on the amount and type of feed intake. Unfortunately, many of the available measurement techniques for estimating enteric methane emissions can impose a change in feed intake. Our study evaluates a nonintrusive technique that uses a novel approach (point-source dispersion with multiple open-path concentrations) to calculate enteric methane emissions from grazing cattle, reported as the major source of GHG in many countries, particularly Australia. A scanner with a mounted open-path laser was used to measure methane concentration across five paths above a paddock containing 18 grazing cattle over 16 d. These data were used along with wind statistics in a dispersion model (WindTrax) to estimate an average herd methane emission rate over 10-min intervals. Enteric methane emissions from the herd grazing a combination of Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana Kunth) and Leucaena [Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.)] averaged (± SD) 141 (± 147) g animal−1 d−1 In a release-recovery experiment, the technique accounted for 77% of the released methane at a single point. Our study shows the technique generates more reliable methane emissions during daytime (unstable stratification).

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