Hello, fellow cattle farmers! In this article, we will explore the key technologies available to reduce on-farm emissions in the cattle world. We all know our industry is under intense scrutiny for the impact on emissions, so what are the existing solutions to manage and reduce these emissions? We will explore below some interventions that can have a positive impact on your operations and finances, while making your farm more sustainable! Consider this as a high-level overview, with more detailed discussions on specific technologies, their advantages, and disadvantages coming in future articles
Controlling enteric fermentation with feeding additives
Feeding additives consist of products and supplements incorporated into cattle diets with the intention of reducing the natural amount of methane produced in the digestion process. Examples include red seaweed, monensin, linseed, mootral, bromochloromethane, and 3NOP. Even though testing is still underway, these additives have shown impressive results in reducing methane emissions when included in cattle’s diets. Take red seaweed, for example. Researchers at UC Davis found that just adding 1% of compound in cows’ meals can cut emissions by a whopping 82%! More importantly, these technologies are already leaving the lab, as commercial farms in California are already testing this out, as reported by Inside Climate News.
Utilizing anaerobic digesters to reduce manure’s impact and generate biogas
We all know manure is a necessary part of farming, but one of its biggest consequences is not the smell but the significant amount of greenhouse gases it produces. That’s where anaerobic digesters come in. These systems work by breaking down the manure in the absence of oxygen, capturing the biogas produced in the process. That biogas, which is mainly methane and carbon dioxide, can be put to good use on farms by generating heat and electricity!
Implementing sustainable practices in crop and grazing management
Here’s where creativity as farmers really comes into play. You can make a big difference in reducing emissions through crop and grazing management practices. An example is cover cropping, which involves planting legumes or grasses during the off-season to boost soil health, increase carbon sequestration, and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. And how about no-till farming? By minimizing soil disturbance and avoiding plowing or tilling, farmers can lock more carbon in the soil and cut down on emissions from soil carbon loss. Another interesting idea is silvopasture, where trees are integrated with pasturelands, providing shade for cattle, regulating temperature, and sequestering more carbon. Lastly, there are nitrification inhibitors, which slow down the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, protecting the soil from denitrification.
Embracing renewable energy alternatives
Finally, let’s talk about renewable energy. Most farmers (as well as the general population) currently rely on electricity produced from coal or natural gas to power their farms, which only adds to a farm’s carbon footprint. However, with the reduction in costs of renewable energies, technologies like solar or wind might be ideal for some farms. They might seem a bit costly to set up initially, but they pay off in the long run, generating clean electricity for years at a very low marginal cost. That’s a win for farms and the environment!
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Are you interested in automating farm data collection to calculate your carbon footprint, utilizing that data to receive farm-specific insights on financially and environmentally attractive interventions, and identifying and streamlining applications for eligible public and private funding sources and grants associated with that interventions? Write to us!