News / Americas

Special Grass for Livestock Could Cut Greenhouse Gases

Recent studies at an international agricultural research institute in Colombia have shown that a grass used to feed livestock, known as Brachiaria, could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and agriculture and reduce the use of commercial
Recent studies at an international agricultural research institute in Colombia have shown that a grass used to feed livestock, known as Brachiaria, could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and agriculture and reduce the use of commercial

Multimedia

Zulima Palacio

Recent studies at an international agricultural research institute in Colombia have shown that a grass used to feed livestock, known as Brachiaria, could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and agriculture and reduce the use of commercial fertilizers. In the United States, for example, agriculture and livestock account for six percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Cattle and agriculture are blamed as major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But chances are, these animals are much less guilty.

They have been fed a grass known as Brachiaria as well as experimental hybrids that could dramatically cut agriculture's contribution to global warming.

Raimundo Cruz works in the cattle industry.  He recommends Brachiaria grasses for livestock.

"These cattle get fat very easy and offer better gains because this grass has more protein and is easier to digest," said Cruz.

Cows fed on Brachiaria excrete much less methane, a greenhouse gas.  And Cruz says by rotating pineapple and brachiaria grasses every 6 to 8 years, he has tripled the number of cows per hectare and eliminated the use of commercial fertilizers.

"This soil is usually very poor, it could only grow low grass," added Cruz.  "But by rotating pineapple and Brachiaria grasses, we have increased its fertility so much that it allows us to have these grasses only seen in fertile lands."

Brachiaria is a grass for grazing widely planted in the tropics.  Recently, scientists in Colombia, with Japanese partners, discovered that besides being easy to digest and highly nutritious for cattle, brachiaria improves soil quality, and significantly reduces greenhouse gasses emitted by cattle and commercial fertilizers.

"This is the florescence and each one of these is a seed," noted Idupulapati Rao who is studying Brachiaria at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, the third largest city in Colombia.  "These grasses with great root systems exude a particular chemical compound, organic compound, that is called brachialactone…"

And that chemical, he explains, triggers a process that inhibits the transformation of nitrogen in the soil into a powerful greenhouse gas.  Most commercial fertilizers used in agriculture worldwide use nitrogen as the main nutrient.    

"Right now nitrogen fertilizer is like 115 million tons per year around the world," added Rao.

Nitrogen fertilizers emit nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2, the most common greenhouse gas emitted by cars and industry.

Rao says CIAT is researching the genetic map of brachiaria.

"If we know what genes are involved in the production of this chemical and the release of this chemical into the soil, then we can put these genes into major field crops like maize, wheat and rice," explained Rao.

At CIAT, scientists believe Brachiaria and its genes could have other benefits. Here, the white bags contain seeds of different varieties of Brachiaria.  Scientists are studying their attributes including resistance to drought, floods and major pests as well as ability to tolerate acid soil.

In other fields, like this one, a hybrid Brachiaria is planted between rows of legumes.  

Luis Horacio Franco is an agronomist at CIAT.   

"The soil is like a bank," noted Luis Horacio Franco.  "If you just withdraw and withdraw all the nutrients, the soil goes bankrupt."

While scientists continue to study Brachiaria's genome, they hope to spread the use of Brachiaria grasses to tropical regions in Africa and Asia.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Brazil Presidential Race Gets One More Candidate

Environmentalist Marina Silva to join contest for Socialist Party candidate; vote to be held October 5
More

Guatemalan General Killed in Copter Crash Near Mexico Border

General Rudy Ortiz was among five people killed; cause under investigation; weather said to have been possible factor
More

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More

Ex-Guatemalan Drug Kingpin Pleads Guilty to US Charges

Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, linked by authorities to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than 450 kilograms of Colombian cocaine into US
More

Landmark Brazil Poll Brings Good News for Rousseff

Facing tough road to re-election, Rousseff has seen sharp recovery in approval ratings, voter support
More