Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Open-Lot Cattle Feedyards: A Review

Heidi M. Waldrip, Richard W. Todd, David B. Parker, N. A. Cole, C. A. Rotz, Kenneth D. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations, including cattle feedyards, have become an important research topic. However, there are limitations to current measurement techniques, uncertainty in the magnitude of feedyard N2O fluxes, and a lack of effective mitigation methods. The objective of this review was to assess N2O emission from cattle feedyards, including comparison of measured and modeled emission rates, discussion of measurement methods, and evaluation of mitigation options. Published annual per capita flux rates for beef cattle feedyards and open-lot dairies were highly variable and ranged from 0.002 to 4.3 kg N2O animal-1 yr-1. On an area basis, published emission rates ranged from 0 to 41 mg N2O m-2 h-1. From these studies and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission factors, calculated daily per capita N2O fluxes averaged 18 ± 10 g N2O animal-1 d-1 (range, 0.04-67 g N2O animal-1 d-1). This variation was due to inconsistency in measurement techniques as well as irregularity in N2O production and emission attributable to management, animal diet, and environmental conditions. Based on this review, it is clear that the magnitude and dynamics of N2O emissions from open-lot cattle systems are not well understood. Further research is required to quantify feedyard N2O fluxes and develop costeffective mitigation methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1811
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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