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© Thünen-Institut/AK
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Institute of

AK Climate-Smart Agriculture


Modeling nitrogen excretions of dairy cattle

© Thünen-Institut/Folkhard Isermeyer
Dairy cattle grazing in pasture.

Modeling nitrogen excretions of dairy cattle for improving national emission inventories and farm-levelassessments

Milk production is one of the most important sources of greenhouse gases and nitrogen emissions from German agriculture. The dairy cattle sector has changed significantly over the past few decades in various aspects of husbandry and feeding, management and breeding.

Background and Objective

In contrast to the use of fixed table values ​​for the use of crude protein in feeding for the calculation of nitrogen emissions, the systematic data collection established across the board for dairy cattle offers starting points for mapping completed developments over time in nitrogen emissions per cow.

The aim of the joint project is therefore to further develop the procedure for national reporting on ammonia emissions and greenhouse gas emissions by using milk urea values ​​determined routinely in the course of milk checks (milk performance test) or quality tests as a basis for calculations.


New and improved routine applications for the national emission inventories are to be developed on the basis of comprehensive investigations into the alternative calculation methods, which also include data, findings and results from previous studies.

In addition, existing test data is to be integrated and extensively evaluated for the purpose of providing targeted advice to farmers and supporting measures to reduce emissions. Supplementary feeding studies aim to be able to better assess the existing potential for reducing the amount and type of nitrogen excretion in dairy cattle through feeding optimization. This is done based on current recommendations for nitrogen-efficient feeding and taking into account the effect of adjustments on milk yield and animal health. The inclusion of milk urea values ​​also in the differentiated ration-related analyzes ensures the linking of the two main areas of work and supports the direct practical transfer of the project results for the development and further reduction of nitrogen excretion, especially of urea-N, in the German dairy cattle sector.

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)


10.2022 - 10.2025

More Information

Project status: ongoing

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