Farming: Ruminant gas not as bad as once thought

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Less than a decade ago, fingers were being pointed at sheep and cattle, accusing these ruminants of being major contributors to environment-damaging carbon dioxide emissions.

This week SAC sheep and beef specialist, Dr Jimmy Hyslop, said that the accusation did not stand on its own and that there was every chance that the grassland on which the livestock was grazing could restore any imbalance in gas production.

Speaking at a meeting held by Quality Meat Scotland, he said that research he had carried out on a range of livestock farms across the country had identified their carbon footprint which is the amount of gas produced from the stock. Depending on the intensity of production and the efficiency of the enterprise, these could vary quite markedly.

Some new work suggested that grassland could be accumulating CO2 at a rate of just over one tonne per hectare which was, he told delegates, very close to the average CO2 production from his research work.

“The figures previously suggested may not be as bad as has been made out,” he claimed.