Animal Health & Welfare

Methane emissions from ruminants: information for the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are currently estimated for inclusion in the UK National Inventory using simple accounting approaches. In the livestock sector, no attempt is made at present to distinguish between different livestock breeds or methods of animal management. Thus many of the benefits of animal breeding or changes in management practices cannot contribute to meeting policy commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: the only mitigation measure that will be picked up is a reduction in the numbers of animals.

The UK governments are therefore funding an extensive methodological exercise to improve the accounting, reporting and verification of emissions for inventory purposes, and to quantify the uncertainties in the resulting estimates. A co-ordinated series of experiments is being undertaken by a consortium comprising SRUC, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, North Wyke Research, and the Universities of Reading, Nottingham and Aberystwyth, involving the measurement and analysis of methane emissions from cattle and sheep under a wide range of conditions. BioSS is acting as statistical advisor on the management group for this consortium project. As well as ensuring that the inventory-driven objectives of the studies are well reflected in experimental protocols, the statistical methods utilised and in generated outputs, we have facilitated workshop meetings between animal and data scientists to promote a shared understanding of the methodologies being used to quantify and propagate uncertainty across the inventory.

cow wearing sensor round neck Cow wearing innovative methane sensor

Further details from: Iain McKendrick

Article date 2013

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