US agri giant to buy cow masks to trap methane burps

A United Kingdom-based startup has designed a mask for cattle, which will catch their methane-loaded burps. A major American agri corporation has now backed the device as part of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Agriculture giant Cargill Inc. will start selling methane-absorbing wearable devices for cows, putting its support behind an experimental technology that could help the industry cut greenhouse gas emissions, reports Bloomberg.

The developer of the mask-like accessory, U.K. startup Zelp Ltd., claims it can reduce methane emissions by more than half. 

Contrary to the misconception that flatulence is the leading cause of methane from livestock, some 95% of methane released by cows comes out as burps and through the nose. According to Bloomberg, Methane traps 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in its first 25 years in the atmosphere.

The global livestock industry is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with feed production generating the most of these climate-change enhancing gasses (45%), followed by feed ingestion, at 39%. Manure storage (10%) and processing and transportation (6%) has a much smaller impact, according to the Bloomberg report.

Cargill, based in Minneapolis, USA, aims to cut emissions from its global supply chains by 30% by 2030. In North America, it wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its regional beef supply chain by 30% by the end of the decade.

According to Cargill’s ruminant strategic marketing and technology lead for West Europe, Sander van Zijderveld, getting cash-strapped farmers to pay for new technologies has been the key challenge, but that seems to be changing.

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He thinks incentives will increase, including more dairy processing companies that are willing to pay a premium for milk produced at farms that meet environmental and animal welfare standards. Farmers could also potentially recoup their costs by selling carbon offsets, which other companies can buy to count against their own pollution. 

ALSO READ: SA’s first ‘net zero dairy farm’ developed in George

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