'GreenCow' Grant For SAC

A £1 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Scottish Government has been awarded to SAC for equipment to help research on reducing livestock greenhouse gas emissions.

Described as the equivalent of a cow ‘breathalyser’ by SAC Research Engineer Dave Ross,  the “GreenCow” equipment can make accurate measurements of what the cattle take in and what they give out. Special pens where cattle will be housed for short periods will also be erected. The cattle will be able to move around freely and exhibit natural behaviour while their intake of food will be monitored and their methane emissions and eructations (burping) measured.

According to Professor Simm – SAC Academic Director designate, the GreenCow grant and the state of the art facilities give SAC the opportunity to develop new tools for cattle and sheep breeders and producers.  It will help them meet the challenge of feeding a hungrier world with more sustainable use of resources.

He commented: “We need to double global food production over the next 50 years to feed the growing human population.  However, we must also reduce the environmental footprint of food production, including greenhouse gas emissions.  Cattle and sheep account for over a third of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, but they also produce quality food products from the grass and forages that aren’t for human consumption.”

One of the first objectives of the SAC team will be to develop more portable, simple measures that can identify lower methane-producing livestock for use in breed improvement programmes. They see many other potential applications in developing ‘lower carbon’ food production, and will be collaborating with other research and industry users on these.

For more information, please contact Professor Geoff Simm geoff.simm@sac.ac.uk or Dave Ross dave.ross@sac.ac.uk


Published on 28 September 2009 in Climate, water and energy