Farting in the pasture
Cows are not as bad for the environment as we thought
Cows and cattle are considered climate sinners because they emit nitrous oxide, which is very harmful to the environment. A new study comes to the conclusion: Cows on the pasture are less bad for the climate than assumed.
Grazing cows emit less nitrous oxide than previously thought. Agroscope researchers found this out in a study on a pasture. (KEYSTONE/Gian Ehrenzeller)
Grazing cows emit less environmentally harmful nitrous oxide than previously thought. Agroscope researchers found this out in a study on a pasture in the canton of Thurgau.
Agriculture is responsible for around two thirds of the nitrous oxide emissions in Switzerland, Agroscope wrote on Wednesday. However, the climate-warming effect of nitrous oxide is around 265 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Only 5 percent of the nitrous oxide from cows
Only about five percent of the nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture come from grazing cows. That is significantly less than previously calculated or estimated, said Christof Ammann, team leader “Emissions” at Agroscope, in a video clip recorded on the research pasture in the canton of Thurgau.
The trial on the pasture near Tänikon TG has been running for two years. According to Ammann, various devices are used to measure the concentration of nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases in the air and on the ground. The emission is calculated from this. Cameras are used to monitor how many cows are in the measuring sector.
How much nitrous oxide is actually excreted by grazing cows depends on the local conditions, i.e. the soil and humidity. Emissions were lower in dry years than in wet ones. The new guideline values are now to be included in emission inventories – for example in the greenhouse gas inventory of the Federal Office for the Environment.