LIFE Gas-off project completes emission reduction trials on dairy cows

Gepubliceerd op 19/07/2013

The LIFE Gas-off project (LIFE09 ENV/IT/000214) recently completed trials on the use of feed additives to reduce the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in dairy cows.

The trials are part of an integrated evaluation of strategies to mitigate GHGs on dairy farms and were carried out on four groups of six Friesian cows. One of these groups acted as a control, while the others were fed with diets containing one of three different additives: Thymol, Guaiacol or Yeast. These additives had already been tested at the University of Milan and were shown to have potential in reducing enteric methanogenesis. The purpose of the trials, therefore, was to determine the effectiveness of the different diets. The project, which is being led by Azienda Sperimentale "Vittorio Tadini", a non-profit research and advisory organisation based in Piacenza, is also assessing the role of biogas production and the cultivation of biomass crops in reducing GHG emissions on farms. In particular, it is looking at techniques for optimizing biomass production and manure and effluent management in order to improve the performances of biogas plants and reduce environmental impacts.

Field tests on the cultivation of sweet sorghum, applying both organic (compost, cattle slurry and digestate from a nearby biogas plant) and chemical fertilisers (ammonium nitrate), and using different tilling techniques, have already been completed. Part of the test area was subjected to minimum tillage and cultivated to a depth of just 15 cm, with subsequent power harrowing, while the remaining part was subjected to conventional tilling, with plowing to 30-35cm and subsequent harrowing. The next phases of treatment will look more specifically at the effects of different irrigation regimes.

Demonstration and training

The knowledge gained from the project tests will be presented during two intensive training courses on the 18th of October and the 14th of November 2013. The courses will cover four main topics: the production of biomass and manure management to reduce greenhouse gases: the economic and life cycle assessment (LCA) of integrated livestock and bio energy management; the effects of housing and the management of livestock manure on GHG emissions and the performance of biogas plants; and emissions of climate-altering gases from livestock.

Also during October and November 2013, the project will organize three demonstration days at the demo-farm in Piacenza, and two workshops, one in Piacenza (October) and one in LODI (November). The final conference of the Gasoff project will take place during the first week of December 2013.

Source : LIFE -  © European Union, 1995-2013