Thursday, September 11, 2008

A short course in Bovine methane production, an unintended guest post by Estu

Stud Farmhand posted this in the comments below, and it was awesome enough I figured I'd better make it a post of its own.

A short course in bovine methane production:

Cow flatus is commonly cited as a significant contributor to global warming; as much as 18% of all methane produced worldwide comes from animals, with 90% of that coming from cud chewers (sheep, goats, camels, water buffalo, but mostly cattle)

There's a genetically engineered grass which, if fed to cattle, is claimed to reduce their methane emissions:

(note that at least one country, Great Britain, includes plans to reduce bovine flatulence as part of its comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse emissions.)

Here's another proposed solution to the problem: a methane trap developed in Argentina:

Finally, here's a project underway in California to use the methane released by cows to generate electricity:

And Stu's continued commentary, now on Horse manure:

Another related topic: horse manure and stall bedding are a significant problem. If simply piled up and left to rot, they add significant nitrogen to the soil and groundwater of surrounding areas. ANother option, hauling to landfills, simply relocates the problem to our already overflowing solid waste disposal systems.

Composting is effective but can be time- and labor-intensive.

There's a company in Snohomish, WA that makes fast-composting systems for stall bedding and horse manure:

I have been using one of their micro-bin systems for the last year and am very pleased with the result: I can cure 16 cubic feet -- 1.75 cubic yards -- of used bedding and manure in 30 days. The company also claims that the system is effective for other forms of animal waster (sheep, poultry), household garbage (food waste, not trash) and for yard waste such as grass clippings.

Enjoy your friends geeking out eloquently on your blog,


[cow picture via burpless grass article, horse manure composter picture via]


Chuck Butcher said...

Not to pick nits, but as a construction contractor I am very aware that there are 3x3x3=27 cubic feet in a cubic yard. That would make 16 cu ft about 0.6 cu yd. Take my word for it, a yard is a lot of material.

Bentley said...

Estu, Brandon
That was awesome.

Stu Farnham said...

And take my word for it, my numbers were worse than that: my bins are 4x4x4 or 48 cubic feet.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Stu! And thanks B for all of the S talk. It is hopeful in the midst of all the BS that is choking the air out there now. If we could find a way to productively use the off products of the political flatulence we could save the planet with no problems at all. I'm thinking of one cow in particular. Edit this is you want. jdm

graciela said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.