Dairy cow excreta patches change the boreal grass swards from sink to source of methane
We studied methane (CH4) flux rates from experimental excreta patches on a dairy pasture with a chamber technique during snow free seasons and with a gas gradient technique during winter from timothy-meadow fescue sward with mineral N fertilization (220 kg ha-1) and from grass-white clover mixture without fertilization. The dung and urine patches were applied in June or August two consecutive grazing seasons and the measurements were carried out for a year following each application. There were no significant differences in CH4 fluxes between plant species and emissions originated mainly from the fresh dung pats. The average annual CH4 fluxes from the control sites without excreta were -0.60±0.1 and with the excreta 0.47±0.3 kg CH4 ha-1. Thus, excreta originating from dairy cows can turn boreal swards from weak sinks to small sources of CH4. However, these emissions are only 0.2% of the total CH4 emissions from a dairy cow.