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Milk production Life Cycle Assessment: A comparison between estimated and measured emission inventory for manure handling

Baldini, Cecilia, Bava, Luciana, Zucali, Maddalena, Guarino, Marcella
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.625 pp. 209-219
ammonia, barns, climate change, dairy farming, environmental impact, equations, global warming potential, greenhouse gas emissions, inventories, life cycle assessment, manure handling, milk production, uncertainty
Measuring emissions from manure management operations (from the barns to the land) is a challenging task, subject to different uncertainties related to the spatial-temporal variability in the process leading to gaseous release. At the same time, emissions inventory is a prerequisite of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies. Manure management emissions are usually estimated using equations developed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, in the case of greenhouse gases emissions) and European Environmental Agency (EEA) for Nitrogen-related emissions. In the present study, the environmental impacts associated to three Italian dairy farms were calculated through a comparative LCA using two different approaches for complying the emission inventory. In the “estimated” approach (E) the commonly adopted IPCC and EEA equations were used, while in the “measured” approach (M) emissions actually measured were taken as input data to quantify the emissions associated to manure management. The results showed that the IPCC equation underestimates the manure management emissions, leading to a 10–42% lower global warming potential comparing E to M approach. On the other hand, ammonia related impact categories showed higher values if they were calculated using the estimated approach, underling that a safer level of estimation is maintained.