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Project will study greenhouse gas emissions from manure storage


PRO-DAIRY Dairy Environmental Systems (DES) is seeking New York State (NYS) dairy farmers interested in collaborating on a project to study greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from manure management and storage sites. Results will be used to help identify best practices to reduce GHG emissions, in-line with the US Dairy Net Zero Initiative, and inform dairy farms on how to potentially capitalize on these reductions.

Though NYS livestock production contributes just under six percent of the state’s total GHG emissions, it is estimated to emit about 14 percent of the state’s methane emissions[1]. Methane is a potent GHG that is emitted from manure management systems including long-term manure storage. New York State has begun an intensive effort to reduce methane emissions in support of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Despite its significance to climate change, exact sources and quantities of methane from dairy farms are uncertain. PRO-DAIRY DES is leading an effort to better understand the generation of methane and nitrous oxide (another GHG) from dairy manure management systems and manure storages as well as identify practical strategies to reduce these emissions. The farm systems to be studied are described below. Methane captured and destroyed or methane that is avoided altogether has value in the carbon markets. This project will help the dairy industry to understand the opportunity and options.

Manure Storages

DES is seeking partners with the following dairy manure storage types that are regularly filled throughout the year and relatively isolated (or upwind) of barn or barnyard areas to avoid interference from cattle enteric methane.

  1. Raw manure
  2. Raw manure separated liquid
  3. Digested manure effluent
  4. Co-digested manure and food waste effluent

The air methane concentration will be measured once per month over a two-year period using a portable gas analyzer. Liquid samples will also be collected, and storage temperature continuously monitored. Time commitment by the farm is minimal and will involve communication and coordination about manure storage loading and draw down schedules.

Manure Biogas Containment Systems

DES is also seeking dairy farm partners employing biogas containment systems (i.e., anaerobic digesters and covered manure storages) to provide methane loss (leakage) detection and advice on prevention and mitigation. The entire biogas containment system (e.g., digester vessel to biogas conditioning to energy produced) will be scanned using an optical gas imaging (OGI) camera to visualize and document methane point-source leaks about once per quarter for at least one year. Time commitment by the farm is minimal; data from existing biogas flow meters and other relevant components will be requested for analysis. Where lacking, a biogas flow meter may be installed to collect necessary data. Showing participants if there are methane leaks and correcting them will improve methane destruction and bring value to the farm in carbon credits and/or increased energy generated. 

Participating farms will remain anonymous, and findings will be shared with the farm and their stakeholders. This work will inform best practices in manure management to reduce GHG emissions while protecting water quality, helping dairy farms continue to improve their sustainability. Please contact us with potential sites to be considered for inclusion in the study and/or your questions.

Cornell PRO-DAIRY Dairy Environmental Systems

Lauren Ray                  Jason Oliver

Peter Wright                Angela George


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