Time for another installment on my ongoing cow fart tycoon series.
Mike Abberton, a scientist at the institute, said farmers could help tackle climate change by growing grass varieties bred to have high sugar levels, white clover and birdsfoot trefoil, a leafy legume, for their animals to eat. The altered diet changes the way that bacteria in the stomachs of the animals break down plant material into waste gas, he said. The institute has started a new government research programme, with the universities of Wales and Reading, to investigate how this process could be improved. A similar project in New Zealand suggested that dietary changes could reduce methane emissions from sheep by up to 50%.Time to put those ruminants on a high sugar diet.
A single cow can produce between 100 and 200 litres of methane every day. Farmers regularly re-sow their fields so Dr Abberton said the switch in diet could be relatively straightforward.
In America we all know that changing diet is for suckers. Is there a pharmacological solution?
Scientists at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany, announced this year that they had developed a pill to reduce methane emissions from cattle. The plant-based pill, combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, is meant to reduce the methane produced by cows by converting it to glucose.Cow Beano, sweet!
In a separate project, Giles Oldroyd, a plant scientist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, is working on ways to genetically modify other plants such as wheat so they can mimic this nitrogen-fixing ability, an advance he called the holy grail of crop research because it would dramatically cut the use of synthetic fertilisers.Wow, if they pull that off it would really be something.