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Measurements of methane emissions from livestock and their manures

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Project AC0115 is managed as a collaborative project through a Project Management Team made up of the following principal investigators from the project partners:

        Dr Jon Moorby (IBERS – Project Leader and WP 8 lead)
        Dr Mariecia Fraser (IBERS – Project Manager and WP 3 lead)
        Dr Kairsty Topp (Scottish Agricultural College – lead WP 1)
        Tom Gardiner (National Physics Laboratory – WP 2 lead)
        Dr Tony Waterhouse (Scottish Agricultural College – lead WP 4) 
        Dr Alistair Carson (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute - WP 5 lead)
        Dr Phil Hobbs (Rothamsted Research - North Wyke – lead WP 6)
        Dr Les Crompton (University of Reading – lead WP 7)
        Prof Phil Garnsworthy (University of Nottingham)
        Prof Chris Reynolds (University of Reading)
        Dr Lindsay Easson (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute)
        Dr Iain McKendrick (BIOSS– Statistical advisor)

The Project Management Team is supported by a Project Advisory Group made up of the following industry experts, which include representatives of the devolved authorities and levy bodies:

        James Campbell (AgriSearch)
        Dr Karen Wonnacott (DairyCo)
        Ray Keatinge (DairyCo)
        Dr Mary Vickers (English Beef and Lamb executive (EBLEX))
        Dr David Garwes (Garwes Consulting – Independent Chair)
        Dr Toby Mottram (GHG programme)
        Lynfa Davies (Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC))
        Ian Stevenson (Livestock and Meat Comission for N. Ireland (LMC))
        Andy McGowan (Quality Meat Scotland (QMS))
        Caspian Richards (Scottish Government) 
        Nia Ball (Scottish Government) 
        Dewi Jones (Welsh Assembly Goverment)

The AC0115 project will span November 2010 to January 2014 and is composed of 8 separate work packages:

WP 1 Prioritisation of Areas Requiring Emission Factors

The initial step in the work programme will be the prioritisation of areas requiring the development of EFs for UK livestock.  A significant proportion of this work will be carried out within project AC0114.  The focus of the data mining exercise will be to use existing archives of data to generate EFs that are relevant to dairy, beef and sheep production in different regions of the UK, with temporal and seasonal disaggregation.  Emission factors that can be derived from current datasets can therefore be used to fill in gaps in a matrix that includes EFs for different livestock species, breeds, age, UK regions, diets and nutritional mitigation factors.

WP 2 Method Development and On-Farm Verification

Current methodologies for measuring methane are time-consuming, require specialist expertise and facilities, and are, for the most part, not suitable for routine measurements on-farm.  There is a need to develop technology that can be used to measure or estimate methane emissions in situ, that is affordable, accurate, reliable and easy to use.  This WP aims to assess and develop novel technologies that could be used to determine methane emissions rapidly and easily in a range of on-farm situations, for experimental and practical purposes.  The work package also aims to establish consistent calibration/validation methods for all of the measurement techniques being used to ensure the reliability and consistency of the data sets being gathered. 

Measuring methane is a difficult task, and in this project we are evaluating different tools that assess methane outputs from livestock. The LaserMethane detector is a hand-held device that can be used to measure methane at a distance. It uses a laser pointer to aim at a target and measures methane in a completely passive and safe manner:

 WP 3 Methane Emission Measurements from Sheep

This workpackage will generate new data to enable UK-specific emission factors to be used in future GHG inventory reporting.  Experimental work across different research centres will establish the extent to which body size, genotype, age and G(enotype) x N(utrition) interactions influence methane outputs from sheep.  The work being undertaken covers current and emerging flock structures, key stages of the sheep production cycle, and regional differences in farming systems.  By combining the results obtained it will be possible to determine EFs that cover the range of different sheep production systems, and determine the extent to which regional variation in farming systems influences these.  The results will also enable the impact of changes in management within systems linked to mitigation to be predicted. 

This workpackage will generate new data to enable UK-specific emission factors to be used in future GHG inventory reporting.  Experimental work across different research centres will establish the extent to which body size, genotype, age and G(enotype) x N(utrition) interactions influence methane outputs from sheep.  The work being undertaken covers current and emerging flock structures, key stages of the sheep production cycle, and regional differences in farming systems.  By combining the results obtained it will be possible to determine EFs that cover the range of different sheep production systems, and determine the extent to which regional variation in farming systems influences these.  The results will also enable the impact of changes in management within systems linked to mitigation to be predicted. 


WP 4 Methane Emission Measurements from Beef

As for sheep, there is a paucity of methane emission data for beef cattle, particularly on fresh/grazed diets, and no-UK specific emission factors are currently used in GHG inventory reporting.  Existing data, held by the consortium partners of this project, is based on housed, finishing beef cattle offered silage-based diets.  Information is required on emissions from grazing animals, suckler cows and different breeds.  The effect of genotype (and in particular offspring from the dairy and beef herd), linked to system, on methane emissions must also be determined. A G(enotype) x N(utrition) experimental programme at each centre will form the focus and linkage for the work across the consortium.

WP 5 Methane Emission Measurement from Dairy Cattle

Dairy cows are the livestock for which the most methane emission data are currently held in the UK (most of it by consortium partners), although the majority of these data have been derived from housed cattle offered diets based on conserved forages.  In many parts of the UK dairy cows and dairy young stock graze for between 6 and 10 months of the year.  However, there are very few measurements of methane output available for grazing dairy cattle within a UK context.  The aim of this workpackage is to generate new experimental data that can be utilised to improve methane emission factors for dairy cattle within the UK GHG inventory.  Specific objectives will focus on quantifying methane emissions from grazing dairy cattle (lactating, growing, dry), growing dairy cattle and mature, dry dairy cattle.

WP 6 Methane Emissions from Manure Management

This workpackage focusses on laboratory characterisation of methane potential of excreta from livestock and assessing the prediction the methane potential with the near infrared reflectance spectrometer. We will also determine emissions from pilot-scale slurry stores. The outcome will be manure management emission factors for methane for livestock systems.

WP 7 Modelling Methane Emissions

This workpackage will utilise methane emission data measured from livestock and their manures to generate EFs and to develop EF proxies from archived animal characterisation data.  The results of this WP will be fed through AC0114 to AC0112 for use in inventory reporting purposes.  The aim will be to provide comprehensive EFs for methane excretion that should be capable of broad practical application across a range of typical UK feeding regimes and livestock systems.  In addition to this, models will also be generated in relation to proxies derived from existing datasets of animal data that do not include methane emission measurements.

WP 8 Knowledge Exchange

The purpose of this work package is to foster effective knowledge exchange between this project and other related projects (AC0112, AC0114 and AC0116), and to ensure that knowledge generated by this project is disseminated using appropriate outlets. Knowledge exchange between project partners will be assured through regular project meetings.  These will include face-to-face meetings of the AC0115 Project Advisory Group every 6 months, and annual workshops including participants from other GHG Platform projects.
 
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