Modeling Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Enteric Fermentation

E. Kebreab, L. Tedeschi, J. Dijkstra, J.L. Ellis, A. Bannink, J. France

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Livestock directly contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mainly through methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. For cost and practicality reasons, quantification of GHG has been through development of various types of mathematical models. This chapter addresses the utility and limitations of mathematical models used to estimate enteric CH4 emissions from livestock production. Models used in GHG quantification can be broadly classified into either empirical or mechanistic models. Empirical models might be easier to use because they require fewer input variables compared with mechanistic models. However, their applicability in assessing mitigation options such as dietary manipulation may be limited. The major driving variables identified for both types of models include feed intake, lipid and nonstructural carbohydrate content of the feed, and animal variables. Knowledge gaps identified in empirical modeling were that some of the assumptions might not be valid because of geographical location, health status of animals, genetic differences, or production type. In mechanistic modeling, errors related to estimating feed intake, stoichiometry of volatile fatty acid (VFA) production, and acidity of rumen contents are limitations that need further investigation. Model prediction uncertainty was also investigated, and, depending on the intensity and source of the prediction uncertainty, the mathematical model may inaccurately predict the observed values with more or less variability. In conclusion, although there are quantification tools available, global collaboration is required to come to a consensus on quantification protocols. This can be achieved through developing various types of models specific to region, animal, and production type using large global datasets developed through international collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynthesis and Modeling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Storage in Agricultural and Forest Systems to Guide Mitigation and Adaptation
EditorsS. Del Grosso, W. Parton, L. Ahuja
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agricultural Systems Modelling, , Synthesis and Modeling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Storage in Agricultural and Forest Systems to Guide Mitigation and Adaptation
PublisherAmerican Society of Agronomy Inc, Crop Science Society of Americ Inc. and Soil Science Society of America Inc.


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