Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) such as open-air beef cattle feedlots are known ‘hot spots’ of emissions of numerous gases including the major greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. Some work has documented CAFOs to derive typical emission factors, but few studies have looked beyond the CAFO to the local landscape to derive the net off-farm emissions. To address the net emissions, the exchange of gases downwind of CAFOs is required, determined in part by the air quality of the gas plume from the CAFO and the characteristics of the underlying surface. Our study measured these downwind fluxes at an open-air beef cattle feedlot using an open-path Fourier Transform Infrared detector and a flux-gradient method. The results showed the dynamic response of fluxes to gas concentration (fresh air or feedlot air) and surface condition (actively growing crop and tilled stubble). These results shed light on the pathways of greenhouse gas flow near a CAFO source, and showed that solely measuring source emissions from a CAFO would lead to errors when developing emission factors.
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