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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Video Havana Welcomes US Decision to Remove Cuba From Terror List

Move brings two Cold War adversaries step closer to re-establishing diplomatic relations that were severed more than 50 years ago
More

Video FIFA's Blatter Defiant About US Corruption Probe

Newly re-elected FIFA president questions timing of US corruption investigation, says he is victim of 'hate' on part of European soccer's governing body UEFA
More

Venezuela Blocks Former LatAm Presidents From Seeing Detained Leaders

Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, both political conservatives, not allowed to meet opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and former Mayor Daniel Ceballos
More

Haiti Struggles to Stem Cholera as Rains Come Early

From January to April this year, 14,226 Haitians infected with cholera - triple the number of cases from the same period last year, with Port-au-Prince hardest hit
More

Cuba Not Off Hook, Despite Removal From US Terror List

Though it's off blacklist, Havana is not clear of all US embargoes and statutory restrictions
More

Nazi War Crimes Suspect Dies in Canada

Vladimir Katriuk, 93, had denied allegations that he took part in killings of civilians in Soviet village of Khatyn, now part of Belarus
More