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Waste Manag. 2011 Aug;31(8):1745-51. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.03.015. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Reducing the environmental impact of methane emissions from dairy farms by anaerobic digestion of cattle waste.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University Institute of Technology of Asturias (IUTA), University of Oviedo, 33203 Gijón, Spain.


Four dairy cattle farms considered representative of Northern Spain milk production were studied. Cattle waste was characterised and energy consumption in the farms was inventoried. Methane emissions due to slurry/manure management and fuel consumption on the farms were calculated. The possibility of applying anaerobic digestion to the slurry to minimise emissions and of using the biogas produced to replace fossil fuels on the farm was considered. Methane emissions due to slurry management (storage and use as fertiliser) ranged from 34 to 66kg CH(4)cow(-1)year(-1) for dairy cows and from 13 to 25kg CH(4)cow(-1)year(-1) for suckler calves. Cattle on these farms are housed for most of the year, and the contribution from emissions from manure dropped in pastures is insignificant due to the very low methane conversion factors. If anaerobic digestion were implemented on the farms, the potential GHG emissions savings per livestock unit would range from 978 to 1776kg CO(2)eq year(-1), with the main savings due to avoided methane emissions during slurry management. The methane produced would be sufficient to supply digester heating needs (35-55% of the total methane produced) and on-farm fuel energy requirements.

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