Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Using airborne technology to quantify and apportion emissions of CH4 and NH3 from feedlots

Jorg M. Hacker A F J , Deli Chen B , Mei Bai B , Caecilia Ewenz A , Wolfgang Junkermann A H , Wolfgang Lieff A , Barry McManus I , Bruno Neininger F G , Jianlei Sun B , Trevor Coates B , Tom Denmead B , Thomas Flesch D , Sean McGinn E and Julian Hill C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Flinders University, Airborne Research Australia, School of the Environment, PO Box 335, Salisbury South, SA 5106, Australia.

B Crop and Soil Section, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Building 142, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

C Ternes Agricultural Consulting Pty Ltd, Upwey, Vic. 3158, Australia.

D University of Alberta, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, T6G 0X0.

E Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, PO Box 3000, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1.

F Metair AG, Sonnenberg 27, CH-6313 Menzingen, Switzerland.

G ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences), Centre for Aviation and Traffic Systems, TV405, Technikumstr. 9, CH-8401 Winterthur, Switzerland.

H Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, IMK-IFU, Kreuzeckbahnstr. 19, D-82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

I Aerodyne Research Inc., 45 Manning Road, Billerica, Massachusetts 01821, USA.

J Corresponding author. Email: jmh@flinders.edu.au

Animal Production Science 56(3) 190-203 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15513
Submitted: 31 August 2015  Accepted: 23 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

A novel airborne approach using the latest technology in concentration measurements of methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3), with quantum cascade laser gas analysers (QCLAs) and high-resolution wind, turbulence and other atmospheric parameters integrated into a low- and slow-flying modern airborne platform, was tested at a 17 000 head feedlot near Charlton, Victoria, Australia, in early 2015. Aircraft flights on 7 days aimed to define the lateral and vertical dimensions of the gas plume above and downwind of the feedlot and the gas concentrations within the plume, allowing emission rates of the target gases to be calculated. The airborne methodology, in the first instance, allowed the emissions to be qualitatively apportioned to individual rows of cattle pens, effluent ponds and manure piles. During each flight, independent measurements of emissions were conducted by ground-based inverse-dispersion and eddy covariance techniques, simultaneously. The aircraft measurements showed good agreement with earlier studies using more traditional approaches and the concurrent ground-based measurements. It is envisaged to use the aircraft technology for determining emissions from large-scale open grazing farms with low cattle densities. Our results suggested that this technique is able to quantify emissions from various sources within a feedlot (pens, manure piles and ponds), as well as the whole feedlot. Furthermore, the airborne technique enables tracing emissions for considerable distances downwind. In the current case, it was possible to detect elevated CH4 to at least 25 km and NH3 at least 7 km downwind of the feedlot.

Additional keywords: ammonia, methane, quantum cascade laser gas analyser.


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