Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) Technologies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Intensity of Pasture-based Cattle Systems

European cattle farmers are facing increased demand for pasture-based and environmentally friendly products. Although feeding strategies to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions have been studied intensively, strategies for grazing systems are under-researched. The lack of easy-to-implement technologies for methane measurement with grazing cattle complicates the necessary large-scale studies.

The aim of this project is to develop an animal-mounted sensor platform for methane measurement in grazing cattle and validate using established techniques (Respiration chambers, LaserGun and Greenfeed).

To what extent can we use sensors and precision farming techniques to determine the methane emission from grazing cows, and then reduce it by management interventions? Those are the two big questions of the GrASTech research project.

In the highly controllable (feed and management) conditions of a modern dairy herd, methane emissions have already been determined and some climate strategies investigated. Under grazing, however, the parameters vary. Still, the researchers wish to develop solutions for the climate impact of dairy farming. The bovine enteric emissions in Flanders must be reduced by 2030 by 19% reduction compared to 2005, in France by 20% by 2025 compared to 2015 and in Scotland by 9% by 2032 compared to 2018).

Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, ILVO, Belgium
Leen Vandaele

Project partners
Institut de l'elevage, IDELE, France
French National Institute for Agricultural Research and the Environment, INRAE, France
Dairy Research Centre, SRUC, United Kingdom
Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Strath, United Kingdom

Total requested funding
974,000 €

Start-end date

Project duration
36 months

Project website and social media

Twitter: #GrASTech

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    NEWS from GrASTech


    GrASTech_grazing cows_575x150.jpg

    In December 2019 GrASTech partners started exploring to what extent precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies can be used to map methane emissions of grazing cows and reduce those emissions by management interventions.
    University of Strathclyde is developing a non-intrusive methane concentration measurement system for grazing ruminants. SRUC is reviewing literature to assess how PLF technologies impact technical efficiency/productivity of housed animals and how this can be translated to grazing animals. Implications on methane outputs of these PLF technologies are being investigated and modelled. ILVO is preparing its first grazing experiment in which enteric methane emission related to three feeding/grazing strategies will be compared. At INRAE, unfortunately, the grazing experiment had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, all methodologies and protocols are in place to be picked up next spring. At IDELE, a laser methane detector is being validated to ensure accurate measurements in grazing situations later on.