Greenhouse gas emissions from cattle excreta in Africa are less than estimated

While greenhouse gas emissions of cattle excreta vary by diet, breed and other factors, measurements found that commonly used Tier 1 emission factors consistently overestimated actual emissions.

Using the state-of-the-art laboratory established in 2015 in Nairobi called the Mazingira Center, scientists are measuring greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in Africa, key to improving the accuracy of emissions data for both national reporting and mitigation.

Already, scientists found that Tier 1 emission factors established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) overestimate both methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta, given typical smallhoder practices in Eastern Africa.

In the paper, Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta on an East African grassland, scientists explain how they analyzed excreta from two breeds of cattle - Boran (Bos indicus) and Friesian (Bos taurus) - under three different diet regimes. While emissions varied based on breed and diet, emission levels were generally lower than the commonly used IPCC Tier 1 emission factors.

The authors have submitted their findings to the IPCC with the hope that their work will improve emissions estimates for Africa.

Greenhouse gas emissions measurements from agriculture are now taken and analyzed in kenya, leading to more knowledge about emissions from smallholder systems in tropical, developing countries. Photo: V. Atakos (CCAFS)


This research is part of the ongoing work of the Standard assessment of agricultural mitigation potential and livelihoods (SAMPLES) inititaive. SAMPLES scientists from CGIAR centers, governments and research centers around the world, work with developing countries to improve data on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation potentials. The Mazingira Center is a collaboration among the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which hosts the lab, through low emissions agriculture research at CCAFS.

Download the article: Pelster DE, Gisore B, Goopy J, Korir D, Koske JK, Rufino MC, Butterbach-Bahl K. 2016. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta on an East African grassland. Journal of Environmental Quality. doi:10.2134/jeq2016.02.0050

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