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UK: Methane-belching cows add to global warming 2007-07-10 19:17:59
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    BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Finding a way to help cows belch less can help reduce global warming, a United Kingdom scientist said Monday.

    Michael Abberton, a scientist at the UK-based Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, noted the average dairy cow belches out about 100 to 200 liters of methane each day. He said diet changes are a key potential factor in reducing this greenhouse gas.

    "There is a common misperception about how methane gets into the atmosphere," he said. "It is actually through belching rather than the other end."

    The key is developing new varieties of food that are easier for cattle to digest and also provide a proper balance of fiber, protein and sugar, said Abberton.

    Agriculture is responsible for about 7 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions and a large proportion of two of the most potent gases with 37 percent of methane and 67 percent of nitrous oxide.

    Abberton said introducing easier-to-digest legumes that tend to reduce methane emissions is an example of an approach scientists are beginning to explore. Legumes such as clover and alfalfa are commonly used for animal fodder.

    It also requires farmers to balance cows' legume intake with other food and to develop different species of grass that are also more digestible, he added.

    "What I'm saying is there are approaches within plant breeding that can lead to reduced emissions," he explained.


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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