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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

Program gives street kids not only food and safety, but a chance for a better life without crossing US border
More

US Senate Kills Immigration Bill, House to Vote Friday

Earlier Thursday, Republican-led chamber abandoned plans to vote on $659 million bill that addresses influx of more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children
More

Argentina Defaults Again on Debt

Negotiators failed late Wednesday to reach an agreement with New York investment companies to avert the default
More

Cameroon’s Coffee Farmers Blame Government for Production Drops

Cameroon's growers, dealers and experts mourn declines in a nation that once ranked 12th in the world.
More

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More