Predicting management effects on ammonia emissions from dairy and beef farms

C. Alan Rotz, Jouke Oenema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Relationships were developed to predict ammonia (NH 3) nitrogen losses from cattle manure in animal housing, during manure storage, following field application, and during grazing. Ammonia loss in each phase was predicted using a mechanistic model for NH 3 volatilized from the surface of an aqueous solution of ammonium where the NHs is transported to the free atmosphere through a pathway with finite resistance. Ammonia emission rate was a function of the ammoniacal N content in the manure, ambient temperature, manure pH, manure moisture content, and the exposed manure surface area. Model relationships were calibrated by selecting values for the resistance to NH 3 transport for the various loss pathways, which predicted daily and annual emissions similar to those reported in published studies. In further evaluation, these calibrated relationships predicted average annual losses similar to those documented in previous work over a range in climate locations. These relationships were integrated into a whole-farm simulation model to provide a tool for evaluating and comparing long-term nitrogen losses along with other performance, environmental, and economic aspects of farm production. Whole-farm simulations illustrated that the use of a free stall barn, bottom-loaded slurry storage, and direct injection of manure into the soil reduced NH 3 emissions by 33% to 50% compared to other commonly used dairy housing and manure handling systems in the northeastern U.S. The improvement in nitrogen utilization more than offset the increased cost in manure handling, providing a small increase in farm profit. The farm model provides a research and teaching tool for evaluating and comparing the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy and beef production systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1149
Number of pages11
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Food Science
  • Forestry
  • Soil Science


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