Bovine Flatulence Collected in Plastic Tank for Global Warming Study

July 17, 2008 by  


By Rupert Neate, Reuters

cow-farts

A cow stands in her pen at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology in Castelar, near Buenos Aires. Argentine scientists are taking a novel approach to studying global warming, strapping plastic tanks to the backs of cows to collect methane.

Scientists are examining cow farts and burps in a novel bid to combat global warming.

Experts said the slow digestive system of cows makes them a key producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets far less public attention than carbon dioxide.

In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.

The Argentine researchers discovered methane from cows accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse emissions.

As one of the world’s biggest beef producers, Argentina has more than 55 million cows grazing in its famed Pampas grasslands.

Guillermo Berra, a researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology, said every cow produces between 8000 to 1,000 litres of emissions every day.

Methane, which is also released from landfills, coal mines and leaking gas pipes, is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Scientists are now carrying out trials of new diets designed to improve cows’s digestion and hopefully reduce global warming. Silvia Valtorta, of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations, said that by feeding cows clover and alfalfa instead of grain “you can reduce methane emissions by 25 percent”.

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