Friday, May 28, 2010

My Very Own CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide

This week was supposed to see the arrival of my steers - that is if I hadn't fallen ill, the rain hadn't socked in, and my fences had magically mended themselves!  Oh well, maybe next week.  Even though the cattle aren't here yet I've already named three of them "CO2", "Methane" and "Nitrous Oxide" after the three worst greenhouse gases (GhG's) - and in honour of a recent study by Dr. Klaus Butterbach-Bahl of the Karlesruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.  I'm sure by now that you've heard the complaints against bovine flatulence (ie. methane) making the GhG problem more acute.  Dr. B-B has now determined that grazed grassland actually produces less nitrous oxide than ungrazed pasture because long grass accumulates snow cover which insulates the microbes that release nitrous oxide.  (So when grass is cut short by animals the ground freezes and the microbes die, ie. I'm supposed to be happy about the freezing temperatures and snow we got out here yesterday!)  Apparently nitrous oxide emissions from temperate grasslands account for up to 1/3 of the total amount produced around the world every year.  In terms of perniciousness, nitrous oxide is the third most important GhG after CO2 and methane.  I guess this makes me an enviro-angel.  Who woulda thunk?  Just doin' my part, Festus.