Monday, March 24, 2014

Cows making methane? There's more to the story

Yep, no doubt you’ve read about the massive levels of methane that herds of cattle emit and their likely contribution to green house gas levels. But there’s more to it and it may come as a surprise. It seems that we could actually reduce the CO2 levels if we got cattle back onto the land, let them graze naturally (no more feed lots) and let their symbiotic relationship with the earth restore barren, unproductive lands to verdant pasture (and to more photosynthesis which in turn leads to lower levels of carbon dioxide)!

To make it simple, look no further than the work of Judith Schwartz, freelance writer and author of the book Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth. Judith recounts the findings of Allan Savory of the Savory Institute in Boulder Colorado:  "It occurred to him that the land needed the animals in the same way that the animals needed the land. He began to really observe how animals functioned on land, and came to understand the really intricate dynamics, the system, that had been naturally in operation.

Basically, when grazing animals graze, they're nibbling on the grasses in a way that exposes their growth points to sunlight and stimulates growth... Their trampling [of the land also] did several things: it breaks any capped earth so that the soil is aerated. It presses in seeds [giving them] a chance to germinate, so you have a greater diversity of plants. [Grazing herds] also press down dying and decaying grasses, so that they can be better acted upon by microorganisms in the soil. It keeps the decaying process going. Their waste also fertilizes the soil."

Makes perfect sense to me, and presumably those chooks that you might now have running around you back garden are doing much the same thing!

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