SAC has won a grant for research equipment worth some £1 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Scottish Government. It will help research on reducing livestock greenhouse gas emissions. With the “GreenCow” equipment researchers can make accurate measurements of what the cattle take in and what they give out. The new facility is a significant addition to SAC’s beef research capability.
Research will help reduce cattle greenhouse gas emissions
Prof Geoff Simm – Academic Director designate at SAC and leader of the bid commented: “We need to double global food production over the next 50 years to feed the growing human population. However, we must also reduce the environmental footprint of food production, including greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle and sheep account for over a third of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, but they also produce quality food products from the grass and forages that aren’t for human consumption.”
According to Professor Simm, the GreenCow grant and the state of the art facilities give SAC the opportunity to develop new tools for cattle and sheep breeders and producers. It will help them meet the challenge of feeding a hungrier world with more sustainable use of resources.
Among the facilities to be installed at SAC are special pens where cattle will be housed for short periods. They will be free to move around and exhibit natural behaviour while their intake of food will be monitored and their methane emissions and eructations (burping) measured.
According to SAC Research Engineer Dave Ross, who planned the facility, the equipment could be described as the equivalent of “cow breathalyser”.
One of the first objectives of the SAC team will be to develop more portable, simple measures that can identify lower methane-producing livestock for use in breed improvement programmes. The see many other potential applications in developing ‘lower carbon’ food production, and will be collaborating with other research and industry users on these.
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