CM – Gas giants: can we stop cows from emitting so much methane?


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October 27, 2021

by Myriam Lemetayer

This cow may look peaceful and harmless eating grass in a green pasture.

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But don’t be fooled – it emits methane, a particularly powerful greenhouse gas that is contributing to rapid global climate change.

Agriculture is responsible for 12 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions, much of it up Methane, the second most powerful warming gas after carbon dioxide.

As a greenhouse gas over a period of 100 years, methane is about 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide, but it only remains in the atmosphere for 12 years compared to centuries.

A drastic reduction in methane emissions could therefore have a major impact on mitigating the damage to be expected from global warming in the coming decades.

Agriculture and livestock produce around 40 percent of the methane caused by human activities, the rest is from produced by the fossil fuel industry.

Much of this methane is produced by the digestive process of cows p which then burp the emissions into the world.

So how can we reduce the risk of cows being burped every day all over the world?

The US agricultural giant Cargill, in collaboration with the British startup up ZELP (Zero Emissions Livestock Project) developed a form of mask that covers the nostrils of cows.

The device filters the methane and converts it into carbon dioxide, which per molecule has a much smaller impact on global warming.

Ghislain Boucher, head of the ruminant team at Cargill’s animal nutrition subsidiary Provimi, said the initial results are « interesting ».

However, the device has yet to be tested in real-life conditions before it will be released by the end of next year or even 2023 Market can come.

In the short term, Cargill will begin marketing a calcium nitrate food additive in Northern Europe. 200 grams a day would reduce the cow’s methane emissions by 10 percent.

The additional costs are estimated at « between 10 and 15 cents per cow per day, » Boucher said at a breeding meeting in central France.

The addition of Red algae for cow feed has far more potential, according to a US study published earlier this year, which suggests that methane emissions could be reduced by more than 80 percent.

If the results can be repeated, red algae would have to be grown in large quantities The University of California Davis researchers said the question arises, how will farmers react when they pay more for such measures that do not add to their profits unless they are refunded through some kind of carbon credit?

It is also uncertain how consumers will react. For example, Americans who prefer corn-fed beef will be just as fond of the algae-fed variety?

And perhaps the easiest way to reduce methane emissions from cows is to let the world have less beef and dairy products eats.

A May report by the United Nations Environment Program indicated that technological interventions have « limited potential to combat » methane emissions from agriculture.

« Three behavior changes, reducing food waste and – Loss, improved animal husbandry and the introduction of a healthy diet (vegetarian or with a lower proportion of meat and milk) could reduce methane emissions by 65-80 million tons per year over the next few decades. « it said.

© 2021 AFP

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