Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 12, pp 9751–9762 | Cite as

A comparison of emission calculations using different modeled indicators with 1-year online measurements

  • Bernd Lengers
  • Inga Schiefler
  • Wolfgang Büscher


The overall measurement of farm level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in dairy production is not feasible, from either an engineering or administrative point of view. Instead, computational model systems are used to generate emission inventories, demanding a validation by measurement data. This paper tests the GHG calculation of the dairy farm-level optimization model DAIRYDYN, including methane (CH4) from enteric fermentation and managed manure. The model involves four emission calculation procedures (indicators), differing in the aggregation level of relevant input variables. The corresponding emission factors used by the indicators range from default per cow (activity level) emissions up to emission factors based on feed intake, manure amount, and milk production intensity. For validation of the CH4 accounting of the model, 1-year CH4 measurements of an experimental free-stall dairy farm in Germany are compared to model simulation results. An advantage of this interdisciplinary study is given by the correspondence of the model parameterization and simulation horizon with the experimental farm’s characteristics and measurement period. The results clarify that modeled emission inventories (2,898, 4,637, 4,247, and 3,600 kg CO2-eq. cow−1 year−1) lead to more or less good approximations of online measurements (average 3,845 kg CO2-eq. cow−1 year−1 (±275 owing to manure management)) depending on the indicator utilized. The more farm-specific characteristics are used by the GHG indicator; the lower is the bias of the modeled emissions. Results underline that an accurate emission calculation procedure should capture differences in energy intake, owing to milk production intensity as well as manure storage time. Despite the differences between indicator estimates, the deviation of modeled GHGs using detailed indicators in DAIRYDYN from on-farm measurements is relatively low (between −6.4 % and 10.5 %), compared with findings from the literature.


Agricultural modeling GHG measurement Validity of modeled GHGs Emission indicators Dairy farm methane emissions DAIRYDYN Enteric fermentation 



The development of the DAIRYDYN model is funded by a grant from the German Science Foundation (DFG), reference number HO 3780/2-1. The authors are grateful for the cooperation of the Chamber of Agriculture of North-Rhine Westphalia, where the measurements were carried out. This investigation was funded by the Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank and the Federal Ministry of Food Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Germany. The authors want to thank the reviewers as well as the editor for helpful suggestions and a straightforward review process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Lengers
    • 1
  • Inga Schiefler
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Büscher
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Food and Resource EconomicsBonn UniversityBonnGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural EngineeringBonn UniversityBonnGermany

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