Article / Cattle / CCAFS / Climate Change / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya / Mazingira / SLS

Greenhouse gas emissions from African cattle excreta less than estimated

‘While greenhouse gas emissions of cattle excreta vary by diet, breed and other factors, measurements found that commonly used Tier 1 emission factors consistently overestimated actual emissions.

Visit to climate-smart village site in Wote, Makueni Kenya

Cattle keeping in Kenya (photo credit: CCAFS/C Schubert).

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Cattle keeping in South Africa (photo via StormSignal on Flickr).

‘Using the state-of-the-art laboratory established in 2015 in Nairobi called the Mazingira Center, scientists are measuring greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in Africa, key to improving the accuracy of emissions data for both national reporting and mitigation.

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Cattle keeping in Zimbabwe (photo credit: ICRISAT/Swathi Sridharan).

‘Already, scientists found that Tier 1 emission factors established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) overestimate both methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta, given typical smallholder practices in Eastern Africa.

Kadugli - Dilling Provincie Kordofan

Cattle keeping in Sudan (photo via Rita Willaert on Flickr).

‘In the paper, Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta on an East African grassland, scientists explain how they analyzed excreta from two breeds of cattle—Boran (Bos indicus) and Friesian (Bos taurus)—under three different diet regimes. While emissions varied based on breed and diet, emission levels were generally lower than the commonly used IPCC Tier 1 emission factors.’

The authors have submitted their findings to the IPCC with the hope that their work will improve emissions estimates for Africa.

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Cattle keeping in Uganda (photo credit: CIAT/Neil Palmer).

Read the whole article: Greenhouse gas emissions from cattle excreta in Africa are less than estimated, CCAFS blog, 28 Jul 2016.

Read more about this on the ILRI News blogKenyan cattle found to have much smaller faecal carbon footprints than those used in climate change inventories, 17 Jun 2016.

Read more about this on ILRI’s Livestock Systems and Environment blog: Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock waste in East Africa are significantly lower than global estimates: New study reveals, 16 Jun 2016.

Access the ILRI paper here: Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle excreta on an East African grassland, by David Pelster, Betty Gisore, John Goopy, Daniel Korir, James Koske, Mariana Rufino and Klaus Butterbach-Bahl.

For further information about the study and Mazingira Centre, contact Lutz Merbold (L.Merbold[at] or David Pelster (D.Pelster [at]

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) project on ‘In situ assessment of GHG emissions from two livestock systems in East Africa’ provided technical and financial support for this ILRI project.

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