Agricultural Manure and Global Methane Emissions

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While enteric fermentation alone accounts for around a third of all anthropogenic methane emissions worldwide, agricultural manure accounts for another four per cent (4%), according to statistics published by GMI, the Global Methane Initiative, in 2010. In one of my previous posts, Enteric Fermentation Largest Single Source of Global Methane Emissions, I have discussed enteric fermentation and its role in global methane emissions. Unless familiar with greenhouse gas emissions and anthropogenic climate change, one may be surprised at the fact that animal farming is the major cause for human-caused methane emissions worldwide.

Will this be the beginning of the end of animal farming? In order to gain a broader view upon agriculture and animal farming, it may be beneficial to learn about and to understand the beginning and the history of both agriculture and animal farming, along with how these have developed in the past thousands and hundreds of years, up to the past century, the past decades, current developments and future trends. Although animal farming, the domestication and breeding of animals, and agriculture have been present for centuries already, there are differences between cultures, geographies and techniques. Agricultural science, according to for instance National Geography Society, has taken rapid leaps in productivity in the past decades because new sources of energy and power.

Today, in a world where much of animal farming has been industrialized, the ethics of animal farming is being questioned by a growing amount of people. While many animal farmers are struggling in order to make their business lucrative, or even to make ends meet, millions of people worldwide are against animal farming, finding animal farming the worst crime in history as stated in The Guardian´s article from September 25th, 2015: Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history.

While having no trouble buying meat products in supermarkets, many people today are in fact completely completely estranged with the reality of animal farming. If people were to see what actually takes place on many animal farms, their perceptions would perhaps change, or at least be impacted. For instance in Finland, currently almost half of human excrement today ends up as fertilizers in the agricultural sector, something that is strongly opposed by the food industry. There are of course restrictions both in Finland and in the European Union for the amounts of organic matters that may be legally used as fertilizers for growing crops. Nevertheless, the food industry is worried that traces of drugs, medicines, and even plastics may end up as fertilizers. Now imagine that animals are being fed with crops grown on lands where human excrement is being used as a fertilizer. Ultimately, this is a cycle where we end up consuming and eating everything that we so to say put out there. The more toxins at hand in our atmosphere, the more toxins in our soils, and in our bodies.

Methane emissions from enteric fermentation are significant, and these have an impact on our environment, our climate, and on ourselves. Although it is impossible to stop animal farming, there are ways of improving and affecting the amount of methane emissions being released through animal farming and enteric fermentation. Many consumers today also choose to leave away animal products from their lives (vegans). Others choose to buy organically produced animal products. We can all make an impact: as consumers, as farmers, and as policy-makers. There is not one single stakeholder in the supply chain that could not influence the future of animal farming, and the agricultural industry.

Learn more by watching Fertcare´s video “Managing nitrious oxide emissions from soil & fertilizer”:


Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.


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