In 2010 I was privileged to be asked to coordinate Defra’s projects to improve our measurement of greenhouse gases from agriculture. The project brought me into contact with scientists around the world working on the complex problem of how to mange animals to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas, particularly methane from eructations (belches) from the rumen and nitrous oxide from pasture and croplands caused by N applications, some of which is via cow’s urine. I met Juan Tricario at a meeting in the USA and he told me about the Cow of the Future project scoping out the objectives for the future. The review has been wide ranging and from a series of web meetings and document submissions he has pulled together a comprehensive report that is published online. One aspect that is highlighted is the need to manage the pH of the rumen which of course is why we invented the eBolus. Not only does careful management of pH improve cow health it also reduces methane emissions.
It is great to see this work completed, now USDA needs to put some research funds in place to help the industry develop the management techniques we need. As the climate change deniers finally seem to have accepted that we have to reduce emissions if we are not to cook the planet we can now move to international agreements following on from Kyoto to reduce emissions. Agriculture can and must play its part.
My particularly future concern is to develop ways of managing protein metabolism as overfeeding protein almost certainly leads to excess nitrogen flux through the cow”s hind gut leading to N2O emissions from pasture.