Australian Leftist governments plan to stop cow farts!
The success of the Labor states' proposed carbon emissions trading scheme may hinge on stopping cows breaking wind. A joint discussion paper released by the states says agricultural emissions must be cut by 60 per cent and part of the solution is reducing flatulence in cows. Livestock produces more than 60 million tonnes of methane gas annually - the equivalent of 10 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. The discussion paper was released this month to support the case for a state-based carbon emissions trading scheme.
Prime Minister John Howard has attacked the idea and Premier Peter Beattie, although supportive, is concerned about the impact of the proposed scheme on Queensland's coal industry. The paper says agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are a particular concern. "In order to achieve around a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by the middle of this century, agricultural emissions would need to be addressed at some point," it said. "Achieving emissions reductions in agriculture will require a significant research and development effort."
Reducing flatulence in cows is identified as one of the most promising research areas. In particular, it points to "preliminary rumen ecology" research being undertaken in Queensland. Scientists at the Department of Primary Industries are working on three projects. These include investigating whether bacteria found in the gut of kangaroos - which emit very little methane - could be used to reduce emissions from cattle and sheep.
Principal scientist Athol Klieve yesterday said three different types of bacteria had been isolated. "We have been looking at them in a fermentation apparatus . . . to see how well they can colonise, and see if they can reduce methane," he said. "There are promising indications that if we can work out a bit better the requirements they need to be able to persist in the rumen, they will be able to reduce methane emissions." Dr Klieve said the other two projects involved putting coconut oil and cotton seed in cattle feed. "It is known a lot of these liquid-based feed materials do reduce methane emissions," he said.
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