M4Models - Manure management for methane mitigation - Improved inventory modelling to support policy actions

Aim of the project

To reduce methane emissions from slurry in cattle and pig farming through manure management and manure treatment measures and to ensure that this can be reflected in the national calculations.


The M4Models project will investigate the reduction potential for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock using a new methodology to determine methane (CH4) emissions from liquid manure storage combined with a model to describe carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) fluxes at farm level. This new methodology is transparent and provides verifiable estimates of greenhouse gas reduction. While the focus is on existing emission abatement technologies (in particular feeding and anaerobic digestion), the proposed methodology - after validation in this project - can be used to quantify the impact of abatement measures, and also in national emission inventories.

M4Models works towards the following objectives: - Quantification of CH4 emissions and N-availability of liquid manure including reduction measures; - Estimates of greenhouse gas reduction at the operational level through integration into operational models; - Improvement of CH4 emission estimates and greenhouse gas reduction potentials for national emission inventories

What: A new method to estimate CH4 emissions from manure will be used to investigate farm-level greenhouse gas mitigation, and for upscaling to national inventories.

Why: Manure management is a main source of methane (CH4) emissions. Mitigation options such as biogas treatment exist, but effects cannot be verified and are not accounted for in inventories.

Where: The research is been done in six leading research institutes located in Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and at the company Bioprocess Control (BPC).

Main project activities

With the current IPCC method, no distinction can be made between different manure management and manure treatment techniques. In this project a method is being developed to make a better estimate of the methane emissions from various barn and storage systems. The potential and actual methane production from different types of manure (cattle / pigs, different storage times, different temperature, different feed, different fertilizer treatments) is determined in a standard measurement setup in different countries. With known manure volumes and temperatures of the manure, an estimate can then be made of the daily and annual methane emissions from various stable and manure storage systems. This information is then partly used to determine the methane emission in the entire fertilizer chain, using the FarmAC calculation model (www.FarmAC.dk). The effects on nitrous oxide emissions and carbon sequestration in the soil are also determined.

Concept and approach


Support policy actions (M4Models) will investigate GHG mitigation for livestock production using a new methodology to determine CH4 emissions from manure management in combination with a farm model to describe C and N flows at farm level. If validated, this approach can produce verifiable estimates of GHG mitigation. An existing model, FarmAC, will be modified to describe country-specific finishing pig farms and dairy farms, as basis for scenario development.

Experiments will study effects of feeding, biogas treatment and storage on CH4 emissions from manure. All partners will quantify CH4 production rates in manure from pig and cattle farms; volume and temperature are studied with sensors. Results are used to parameterise submodels of daily CH4 emission for use in analysing country-specific scenarios with the model FarmAC. GHG mitigation scenarios, incl. C storage and N use efficiency, will be studied and the results upscaled for inventories.

Project consortium

Coordinated by: Dr. Søren O. Petersen, Aarhus University (AU), (Denmark)

  • GERMANY: Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB)
  • THE NETHERLANDS: Wageningen Livestock Research (WLR)
  • SWEDEN: Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Lund University (LU), Bioprocess Control Sweden AB (BPC)

More information

Presentations and posters

Research articles