Monday, January 22, 2007
No, Kate, Don't Feed Your Cattle Refried Beans!
In late November, The United Nations released a report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow Environmental Issues and Options, which detailed the effects of industrial agriculture on GWG emissions:
When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
The report concluded that cattle flatulence puts more greenhouse gases into the air than The Automobile, in fact constitutes somewhere between 20 and 30 per cent of the anthropogenic global warming problem.
This finding prompts Kate over at SDA to ask:
So does this mean that I should stop feeding the cows nachos and refried beans when I invite my father-in-law's cattle herd over to watch Monday Night Football?
That a city-boy like me should have to offer Kate advice on farming is astounding, but here I go! The answer is yes! Definitely stop feeding the cattle nachos and beans!
Because the concept of cattle as GWG emitters did not suddenly spring into existence with the U.N. report. For example, there is R. A. Leng's paper on the topic, Quantitative Ruminant Nutrition - A Green Science, which dates from 1993. And there is this 2002 account from the BBC, "Cow feed researchers smell success".
(Not that I am an expert or even did much research for this post. Personally, I first heard of the idea of breeding "green cows" at the ScienceDaily website in 2002. However, it appears I still know more about it than our "so-called" farm girl)
And you know what, Kate, it all comes down to diet, the design of eco-friendly cattle feeds. From the BEEB:
Aromatic plant oils in cattle feed could make cows less flatulent and dung smell sweeter if a research project EU-funded project led by scientists at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen is successful.
Using aromatic extracts of herbs such as thyme, mint and others could reduce the level of fermentation in the rumen - causing less flatulence and a more bearable smell.
Dr John Wallace, head of the microbial metabolism research group at the Rowett, said: "We know that the release of methane from ruminants is extremely damaging to the environment.
"We believe our work has the potential to halt this increase and help stabilise the environment by taking a natural route to improved rumen fermentation."
Again, its shocking that a BigCityLib should have to lecture a rural Conservative on what is essentially a rural issue, but let me repeat: lay off the nachos and beans, Kate! That's not being helpful!
Besides environmental concerns, cows don't like nachos and refried beans! I suspect that if I were ever to visit your farm I would find some very sad-eyed cattle. Shame on you!