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The objective of this study was to estimate direct methane and nitrous oxide emissions of South African dairy and beef cattle in total and per province using the Tier 2 methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but adapted for tropical production systems. Dairy and beef cattle in 2010 contributed an estimated 964 Giga gram (Gg) or 72.6% of the total livestock methane emissions in South Africa. Beef cattle in extensive systems were the largest contributor (83.3%), followed by dairy cattle (13.5%), and feedlot cattle (3.2%). The enteric methane emission factors for dairy cattle of 76.4 kg CH4/head/year and 71.8 kg CH4/head/year for concentrate fed and pasture-based production systems, respectively, were higher than those reported by other developing countries, as well as the IPCC default value of 46 kg CH4/head/year for developing countries. The beef cattle methane emission factors of 78.9 kg CH4/head/year and 62.4 kg CH4/head/year for commercial and emerging/communal cattle, respectively, were similar to those reported by other developing countries, but higher than the IPCC default value of 31 kg/head/year. Primarily because of cattle numbers, Eastern Cape recorded the highest dairy and beef cattle methane emissions, whereas Gauteng showed the highest feedlot methane emissions.
Keywords: Greenhouse gas, production systems, commercial, communal, feedlot, rangeland