Jan 9, 2009

Grass May Reduce Global Warming

Although you can't actually hear a cow burp they are constantly releasing methane. When they digest grass, micro flora in their gut breaks down. Methane is the majority of what is burped up, a contributing factor in greenhouse gases. Scientists from a plant breeding research center in Australia are developing a new kind of grass that has been tested in the lab and glasshouses and are now planning field trials. Farmers should be able to maintain their dairy herds, productivity and profitability while cutting down gassy burps and reducing their contribution to global warming.
The dairy industry definitely has an impact on greenhouse gas emissions and Britain's target is to cut them by 20% by 2010. The goal is to have 20-30% of milk producers trying out new technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2015.

There is some controversy about the breakdown process of the new grass and if it in fact will reduce methane. A lecturer in farm animal health says that a diet too rich in highly digestible carbs can actually increase the amount of methane a cow belches out. And a professor of animal science says more digestible forage could push up a cows absolute methane emissions but productivity gains would mean less methane per unit of milk.

As long as this new technology remains new, I am sure there are some kinks that need to be worked out. If it pans out, it could really help the reach their greenhouse gas reduction goals in the UK and around the world.