Herd concentration areas (HCAs) (e.g. laneways, water troughs, shaded areas), where cattle spend a larger proportion of their time relative to other farm areas, have been identified as ‘hotspots’ for soil-borne greenhouse gas (GHG) losses due to high carbon and nitrogen loading from animal excreta and compacting by animal treading. The existence of these GHG ‘hotspots’ is clear, but we lack the information to verify or quantify these claims in subtropical biomes, where emissions may deviate substantially from temperate zones due to heavy rainfall events (> 100 mm day−1) and high temperatures all year round. This study measured nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions from different farm management areas (herd concentration areas, pasture and riparian zones) over two years in three dairy systems located in the subtropics to determine farm-scale GHG emissions. Nitrous oxide emissions in HCAs were significantly greater than pasture soils (nine times greater on average), while CH4 emissions were only significantly greater at the warmest and wettest site. The key finding for intensively grazed pasture systems, is to acknowledge that it is a small proportion of the farm area (~ 3%) that is responsible for a large proportion of the farm scale GHG budget (~ 28%). This significant ratio indicates that for farm scale GHG mitigation to be effective, both in monetary and environmental terms, management measures should target these emission hotspots.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adhikari KP, Saggar S, Luo J et al (2020) Nitrous oxide emissions and emission factors from urine-deposited “hot-spots” in dairy pastures-winter trials. In: Christensen CL, Horne DJ, Singh R (eds) Nutrient management in farmed landscapes. Palmerston North
Azam F, Müller C, Weiske A et al (2002) Nitrification and denitrification as sources of atmospheric nitrous oxide—Role of oxidizable carbon and applied nitrogen. Biol Fertil Soils 35:54–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-001-0441-5
Ball BC, Cameron KC, Di HJ, Moore S (2012) Effects of trampling of a wet dairy pasture soil on soil porosity and on mitigation of nitrous oxide emissions by a nitrification inhibitor, dicyandiamide. Soil Use Manag 28:194–201. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-2743.2012.00389.x
Chancellor WJ, Schmidt RH, Soehne WH (1962) Laboratory measurement of soil compaction and plastic flow
CSIRO (2018) State of the climate 2018. Canberra
De Klein CAM, Letica SA, Macfie PI (2014) Evaluating the effects of dicyandiamide (DCD) on nitrogen cycling and dry matter production in a 3-year trial on a dairy pasture in South Otago, New Zealand. New Zeal J Agric Res. https://doi.org/10.1080/00288233.2014.941508
De Rosa D, Rowlings DW, Fulkerson B et al (2020) Field-scale management and environmental drivers of N2O emissions from pasture-based dairy systems. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 117:299–315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-020-10069-7
Eggleston S, Buendia L, Miwa K, et al (2006) 2006 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies Hayama, Japan
Firestone MK, Davidson EA (1989) Microbiological basis of NO and N2O production and consumption in soil. Exch Trace Gases Terr Ecosyst Atmos 47:7–21
Flessa H, Dörsch P, Beese F et al (1996) Influence of cattle wastes on nitrous oxide and methane fluxes in pasture land. J Environ Qual. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq1996.00472425002500060028x
Friedl J, Scheer C, Rowlings DW et al (2016) Denitrification losses from an intensively managed sub-tropical pasture—impact of soil moisture on the partitioning of N2 and N2O emissions. Soil Biol Biochem 92:58–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.09.016
Gourley CJP, Aarons SR, Powell JM (2012) Nitrogen use efficiency and manure management practices in contrasting dairy production systems. Agric Ecosyst Environ 147:73–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2011.05.011
Luo J, Ledgard S, Wise B, Lindsey S (2016) Effect of dicyandiamide (DCD) on nitrous oxide emissions from cow urine deposited on a pasture soil, as influenced by DCD application method and rate. Anim Prod Sci 56:350–354. https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15500
Manca F, De Rosa D, Reading LP et al (2020) Nitrate removal and greenhouse gas production of woodchip denitrification walls under a humid subtropical climate. Ecol Eng. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2020.105988
Marsden KA, Lush L, Holmberg JA et al (2020) Sheep urination frequency, volume, N excretion and chemical composition: Implications for subsequent agricultural N losses. Agric Ecosyst Environ 302:107073. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2020.107073
Matthews RA, Chadwick DR, Retter AL et al (2010) Nitrous oxide emissions from small-scale farmland features of UK livestock farming systems. Agric Ecosyst Environ 136:192–198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2009.11.011
Mazzetto AM, Barneze AS, Feigl BJ et al (2014) Temperature and moisture affect methane and nitrous oxide emission from bovine manure patches in tropical conditions. Soil Biol Biochem. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.05.026
Moir JL, Cameron KC, Di HJ, Fertsak U (2011) The spatial coverage of dairy cattle urine patches in an intensively grazed pasture system. J Agric Sci. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021859610001012
Monaghan RM, Barraclough D (1993) Nitrous oxide and dinitrogen emissions from urine-affected soil under controlled conditions. Plant Soil. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00010793
Monaghan RM, Smith LC (2012) Contaminant losses in overland flow from dairy farm laneways in southern New Zealand. Agric Ecosyst Environ. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2012.07.022
Mosquera J, Hol J, Rappoldt C, Dolfing J (2007) Report 28: Precise soil management as a tool to reduce CH4 and N2O emissions from agricultural soils
Mulvaney RL, Khan SA, Mulvaney CS (1997) Nitrogen fertilizers promote denitrification. Biol Fertil Soils 24:211–220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s003740050233
Oenema O, Gebauer G, Rodriguez M et al (1998) Controlling nitrous oxide emissions from grassland livestock production systems. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 52:141–149. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1009732226587
Osei-Amponsah R, Chauhan SS, Leury BJ et al (2019) Genetic selection for thermotolerance in ruminants. Animals 9:1–18. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110948
Parkin T, Venterea R (2010) USDA-ARS GRACEnet project protocols, chapter 3. Chamber-based trace gas flux measurements. Flux
Rowlings D, Labadz M, Scheer C, Grace P (2016) Towards a complete nitrogen budget from subtropical dairy farms: three years of pasture nitrogen losses in surface runoff. In: Proceedings of the 2016 international nitrogen initiative conference, pp 1–4
Rowlings DW, Grace PR, Scheer C, Liu S (2015) Rainfall variability drives interannual variation in N2O emissions from a humid, subtropical pasture. Sci Total Environ 512–513:8–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.011
Saggar S, Bolan NS, Bhandral R et al (2004) A review of emissions of methane, ammonia, and nitrous oxide from animal excreta deposition and farm effluent application in grazed pastures. N Z J Agric Res 47:513–544
Sajeev EPM, Amon B, Ammon C et al (2018) Evaluating the potential of dietary crude protein manipulation in reducing ammonia emissions from cattle and pig manure: a meta-analysis. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-017-9893-3
Scheer C, Rowlings DW, Firrel M et al (2014) Impact of nitrification inhibitor (DMPP) on soil nitrous oxide emissions from an intensive broccoli production system in sub-tropical Australia. Soil Biol Biochem. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.07.006
Schütz KE, Rogers AR, Poulouin YA et al (2010) The amount of shade influences the behavior and physiology of dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci 93:125–133. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2009-2416
Schütz KE, Rogers R, Cox NR, Tucker CB (2009) Dairy cows prefer shade that offers greater protection against solar radiation in summer: shade use, behaviour, and body temperature. Appl Anim Behav Sci 116:28–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2008.07.005
Scott VE, Thomson PC, Kerrisk KL, Garcia SC (2014) Influence of provision of concentrate at milking on voluntary cow traffic in a pasture-based automatic milking system. J Dairy Sci 97:1481–1490. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2013-7375
Shcherbak I, Millar N, Robertson GP (2014) Global metaanalysis of the nonlinear response of soil nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions to fertilizer nitrogen. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1322434111
Tao X, Matsunaka T, Sawamoto T (2008) Dicyandiamide application plus incorporation into soil reduces N2O and NH3 emissions from anaerobically digested cattle slurry. Aust J Exp Agric 48:169–174
Thomas RF, Mew G, Barker PR (1990) Effect of different drainage systems on bearing resistance of some west coast, south island soils. N Z J Agric Res 33:479–488. https://doi.org/10.1080/00288233.1990.10428446
Tully KL, Abwanda S, Thiong’o M, et al (2017) Nitrous oxide and methane fluxes from urine and dung deposited on kenyan pastures. J Environ Qual. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2017.01.0040
Turner DA, Chen D, Galbally IE et al (2008) Spatial variability of nitrous oxide emissions from an Australian irrigated dairy pasture. Plant Soil 309:77–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-008-9639-8
Whitehead DC (1995) Grassland nitrogen. CAB International, Wallingford
The authors would like to thank the Thefs, Clarke and Undery families for their assistance and access to their farms. Some of the data reported in this paper were obtained at the Central Analytical Research Facility operated by the Institute for Future Environments (QUT). This project was funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources through their Carbon Farming Futures program and Dairy Australia.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Mitchell, E., De Rosa, D., Grace, P. et al. Herd concentration areas create greenhouse gas hotspots. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 121, 15–26 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-021-10159-0
- Greenhouse gas