Striking a work/life balance…

      Comments Off on Striking a work/life balance…

I have been continuing to work on my thesis, and the results from the data have given me plenty to work on. This is great but does mean I’m glued to the computer trying to get everything done while still preforming the juggling act that is my life. My mom is still in a lot of pain but is getting slowly better, slow progress is still progress. So overall my life/work balance in currently favouring the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

My breaks form the thesis consist of me getting to go outside for a jog but I’ll forever be thankful for being situated right beside the beautiful canal. It has so much flora and fauna that you just wouldn’t expect to see in a big city like Edinburgh.

The best thing is that the biodiversity is encouraged to grow and expand. They have bee boxes on the opposite bank of the canal, they don’t cut the vegetation too short along the banks so birds and ducks can make their nests.

It was so great to see active bee boxes as I have seen too many bee boxes empty on my travels, it is well known that the number these essential little guys is declining, the video below by the FAO sums up the situation in a quick and factual manner.

FAO: A world without bees.

I managed to get a photo of some ducks and swans in the canal, you can see the all the different types of vegetation, ideal for bees and other wildlife. My other attempts at photographing different birds have not been very successful as they blend into the vegetation which is good for them but not so good for my photograph attempts.

Now to get back to the project, currently my findings from the data are showing that diets, genetics and allocation methods have major effects on the carbon footprints of cows.

The animals that have been part of the program include control cows and select cows, control cows have the same genetic merit as the national herd average, the select cows have a high genetic merit. So on average this means the select cows have a higher milk average then the control cows. This in turn means that the select cows have a lower carbon footprint per litre of milk, when the control and select cows are on the same diet. So the below tables are just on the By product diet, this diet consists of by product feeds generated during different processes, e.g wheat distellers during the distillery process. These tables show the different allocation methods and the difference between the control and select cows. Once the thesis is complete I will upload the results for all of the different diets on the results page but for now this is just a taster of what I am working on.

Economic – By Product Control
BPC_2012 BPC_2013 BPC_2014 BPC_2015 Average
System kg CO2-eq 553,008 514,893 461,791 506,265 508989.3
Milk prod (L) 499,421 415,240 380,634 438,387 433420.5
Milk EI (kg CO2-eq / L) 1.107298 1.239989 1.213217 1.154836 1.178835
Mass – By Product Control
BPC_2012 BPC_2013 BPC_2014 BPC_2015 Average
System kg CO2-eq 2,316,963 2,150,529 1,875,617 2,000,227 2085834
Milk prod (L) 499,421 414,240 380,634 438,387 433170.5
Milk EI (kg CO2-eq / L) 4.639297 5.179 4.927616 4.562695 4.827152
Economic – By Product Select
BPS_2012 BPS_2013 BPS_2014 BPS_2015 Average
System kg CO2-eq 553,104 529,255 551,627 640,040 568506.5
Milk prod (L) 561,972 532,108 539,165 548,249 545373.5
Milk EI (kg CO2-eq / L) 0.98422 0.994581 1.023114 1.167425 1.042335
Mass – By Product Select
BPS_2012 BPS_2013 BPS_2014 BPS_2015 Average
System kg CO2-eq 2,240,678 2,211,958 2,288,705 2,585,180 2331630.25
Milk prod (L) 561,972 532,108 539,165 548,249 545373.5
Milk EI (kg CO2-eq / L) 3.987171 4.15697 4.244908 4.715335 4.276096

From the tables above you can see that mass allocation average the kg CO2-eq per litre of milk is nearly 4 times as much as the economic allocation average the kg CO2-eq per litre of milk. And it is possible to see that the Select cows have a lower average the kg CO2-eq per litre of milk then the control cows as they produce high yields of milk on average.

Now I shall go back to the writing the thesis and generating the necessary statistics, maybe if I’m lucky I might manage to have enough time to go for a jog by the canal.

The juggling continues…

      Comments Off on The juggling continues…

So I’m assuming after my last post you’re wanting to hear how my mom is first, well shes doing okay, but shes a typical Irish mammy and therefor what we deem okay and what she deems okay are too different things, but regardless shes a trooper. I’ll forever be grateful for the fact that she thankfully didn’t re-break her back but nonetheless she is still in serious trouble, re-aggravating an injury like that is far from ideal. So my juggling act continues, but it must be said that I’d choose this juggling act every time if it means she’ll be okay.

I crunched the data enough and I finally have the results. AgRe Calc and Feedprint NL (Click here for the links) are great, but since I was going into the background of the tools I had to go though nearly 80 excel files and if one error happened I would have to start from scratch but regardless I finally completed it. So now its time to turn these results into understandable figures and statistics. Also since I now know the ending to this story I am going to be beefing up my literature review and I aim to have a solid draft thesis completed in two weeks.

Data and A&E, not a recommended mix…

      Comments Off on Data and A&E, not a recommended mix…

So as the title of this post suggests I have had an interesting few weeks, I’m still working away on the data. There is so many things you can do with data which is great but sometimes having too much choice can lead you down some dead ends. But so far with the helpful guidance I’m receiving in SRUC I have been avoiding these dead ends and therefore I have not been wasting any time. I will forever be thankful for this as 3 months is a very short time to carry out a thesis so any time is literally gold dust.

My mom came to visit, we had loads of fun and got to do loads of tourist adventures. Please see the below photos as proof of our fun.

Unfortunately the fun was cut short on the final day when we spent the day in A&E, my mom slipped and landed on her back, she had previously broken her back so we couldn’t take any chances and had to get brought to the hospital in the ambulance. Shes now stuck once again in a back brace. Aer Lingus like always were fantastic they were able to organise wheel chair assistance so she could still fly to the comfort of her own home.

SRUC have been extremely understanding, they facilitated me so that I could fly back short afterwards and work from home for a bit. I will forever be thankful for this kindness.

So I’m attempting to juggle supporting my mom, travelling back and forth, working and writing a thesis, no pressure right? Wish me luck, cause we all know I need it.

Even more data

      Comments Off on Even more data

So I have been continuing to work my way through the data, I now roughly have the emission factors (EF) broken down for each of the four diets for both economic and mass allocation. This was very time consuming but also very interesting.

The difference between the mass and economic allocation could largely vary. Also factoring in or out land use change (LUC) could make drastic changes to the EF of each of the diets.

Overall its been a very productive and interesting week.

Data, data and more data

      Comments Off on Data, data and more data

So this week I’ve been going through data. So lets start at the beginning. There are four different animal diet systems in place for this project, low forage (LF), high forage (HF), home grown (HG) and by-product (BP).

The LF diet consisted of wheat grain, sugar beet pulp, wheat distillers grains, soya hulls, rumen bypass fats, Sopralin & Alkcarb, grass silage, maize silage, Alkalage and Minerals/Vitamins.

The HF diet consisted of grass silage, maize silage, Alkalage, rapeseed meal, Barley distillers grains, wheat distillers grains and Minerals/Vitamins

The HG diet consisted of grass silage, spring beans, wheat grain, red clover silage, maize silage, Lucerne silage and Minerals/Vitamins.

The BP diet consisted of barley straw, sugar beet pulp molasses, breakfast cereal (maize gluten), vitagold, biscuit meal, wheat distillers dark grains, soya bean meal hipro 50%, molasses cane, minerals (High P) and rumen bypass fat.

So as you can see the diets are all very different. So to figure out the different emission factors for each of the diets, I have to use feedprint to get up to date emission factors for each compent in the diet. I need to this for both mass and economic so that I can compare them. They I mst break down how much each of these emission factors are part of the diet. This is very interesting but takes alot of time and effort.

My leg is still an issue but I did mange to do a tiny bit of exploring, I went to Ross fountain by Edinburgh castle. I can’t help but think of how in history soldiers would have looked up at this formidable castle and tried to seize it, it would have be an extremely difficult and daunting task. The choice of its location is ideal, it is built up high with sear rock under its walls. This can be seen in the photo below. There is only one real feasible way in which requires the challengers to fight up hill all the way. Capturing this castle in battle would have been an almost impossible feat. But it has been captured many times over the centuries, the most impressive being when only 30 members of Robert the Bruce forces in the 14th century managed to scale the daunting sear rock and walls during darkness of night and reclaimed it from England for Scotland.

Ross fountain and the new barracks in Edinburgh castle