News last update:6 Aug 2012

Plastic tank to catch cow farts

Some cows in Argentina have a plastic tank attached to their back. Reason? To study the amount of greenhouse gases the cows produce. With this knowledge, better solutions can be designed in a bid to stop global warming.

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 8,000 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 cow'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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