Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will Brazilian and Australian Cattlemen Actually 'Believe' BioDiesel By-Products will Improve the Nutritional Quality of their Beef?

Here we go again, another 'authority' claims that methane emissions by grazing animals makes up one-third of this planet's greenhouse gas emissions.  Our own EPA provides us a handy chart that makes the respected Dr. Alex Chaves of the University of Sidney look like a student rather than a member of the faculty.  Per the EPA, CH4, or methane, accounts for 14.3% of Global GHG emissions, and that includes other sources beyond cattle, like Coal production.

Dr. Chaves' answer to solving this exaggerated statement in regard to beef cattle methane emissions is.....drum roll please....feeding Australia and Brazil's livestock more by-products to make their belches and their dung more environmentally friendly.  He really caught me off-guard on that position, really, I would have never thought either Australia or Brazil would buy in to this FAO generated bunk of modifying the grass diet of grazing cattle...  and Dr. Chaves actually has the temerity to claim his bio-diesel byproducts will improve the grazing cows nutrition and the quality of beef and milk?

Figure 1: Global Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2004
Figure 1: Global greenhouse gas emissions, 2000. This pie chart shows the breakdown of global greenhouse gas emissions by gas. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement manufacturing account for 55 percent of the total. CO2 emissions from land use change and forestry account for another 19 percent. Methane emissions account for 16 percent of the total, nitrous oxide accounts for 9 percent, and the high-global-warming-potential gases (such as sulfur hexafluoride) account for 1 percent.


Greener grazing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

3 March 2010
Gases such as methane expelled by grazing animals make up roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.Dr Alex Chaves, Senior Lecturer of Animal Nutrition in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, is working on ways to reduce these livestock emissions, which contribute to global warming.
Working in collaboration with the CNPGL-EMBRAPA (Dairy Research Centre) and the Federal University of São João del-Rei in his native Brazil, Dr Chaves plans to supplement ruminant feed in Brazil and Australia with biodiesel by-products, such as press-oil seeds and glycerol.
"Brazil has a massive biodiesel industry," he explains. "By using biodiesel by-products in animal feeding, we can hopefully improve animal nutrition and performance, and reduce methane emissions per unit of production."
While Brazil has the second-largest number of livestock animals in the world (170 million head), the quality of its grasses is lower (tropical grasses, or "C4") than those in temperate areas (temperate grasses, or "C3"). This means its animals develop at a slower pace, and therefore emit more methane over their lifespan.
Essentially, Dr Chaves' project aims to improve the quality of Brazil's grasses from C4 to C3, to improve the performance and sustainability of the agricultural sector.
"The better the nutrition, the better the efficiency," he explains. "And the better the efficiency, the less animals you need to produce to feed human beings. This means lower emissions."
"We are trying to kill two birds with one stone," he continues. "We are trying to reduce methane emissions while simultaneously improving animal performance as well as the nutritional quality of the meat and milk."
If the project is as successful as Dr Chaves anticipates it will be, it will help producers to maximise livestock productivity, improve the income of thousands of farmers in marginal regions including outback Australia and lower greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating anthropogenic climate change.

Contact: Michelle Wood
Phone: 02 9351 3191
Email: michelle.wood@sydney.edu.au

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