Large-chamber methane and nitrous oxide measurements are comparable to the backward lagrangian stochastic method
Measurement of individual emission sources (e.g., animals or pen manure) within intensive livestock enterprises is necessary to test emission calculation protocols and to identify targets for decreased emissions. In this study, a vented, fabric-covered large chamber (4.5 × 4.5 m, 1.5 m high; encompassing greater spatial variability than a smaller chamber) in combination with on-line analysis (nitrous oxide [N2O] and methane [CH4] via Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy; 1 analysis min−1) was tested as a means to isolate and measure emissions from beef feedlot pen manure sources. An exponential model relating chamber concentrations to ambient gas concentrations, air exchange (e.g., due to poor sealing with the surface; model linear when ≈ 0 m3 s−1), and chamber dimensions allowed data to be fitted with high confidence. Alternating manure source emission measurements using the large-chamber and the backward Lagrangian stochastic (bLS) technique (5-mo period; bLS validated via tracer gas release, recovery 94–104%) produced comparable N2O and CH4 emission values (no significant difference at P < 0.05). Greater precision of individual measurements was achieved via the large chamber than for the bLS (mean ± standard error of variance components: bLS half-hour measurements, 99.5 ± 325 μg CH4 s−1 and 9.26 ± 20.6 μg N2O s−1; large-chamber measurements, 99.6 ± 64.2 μg CH4 s−1 and 8.18 ± 0.3 μg N2O s−1). The large-chamber design is suitable for measurement of emissions from manure on pen surfaces, isolating these emissions from surrounding emission sources, including enteric emissions.