08.07.2013

Cows with backpacks to study climate change

Guillermo Berra, a veterinarian from the National Institute of Agrarian Technology (INTA-Castelar) Cows are outfitted with an electronic system in a backpack at their backs Methane gas measurements are recorded in a web-based database. Its purpose is to develop plans to mitigate climate change

Tags INTA - CONICET - Innovar
Cows with backpacks to study climate change 1

Guillermo Berra, a veterinarian from the National Institute of Agrarian Technology (INTA-Castelar)

In Argentina, there are between 55 and 57 million cows producing about 250 to 300 liters of methane gas, which is one of the causes of the greenhouse effect. To mitigate this problem, some researchers from the National Institute of Agrarian Technology (INTA) and the Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) developed a new device capable of measuring the amount of contaminating gases produced by livestock.

In our country 44% of gas emissions which cause the greenhouse effect are due to activities in the agrarian sector. In particular, the livestock farming is responsible for a daily emission of more than 250 liters of methane and is the second activity after the energetic sector, which generates the highest amount of gases that cause the greenhouse effect in our country. Taking this into account, some INTA and CONICET researchers created a new invention to measure the amount of contaminating gases produced by cows. With such records, researchers will develop plans to reduce contamination.

Such measuring device is a technological system composed of a backpack that is fitted at the back of cows, sheep, and goats to evaluate the methane gas they produce. Also, such device has a sensor that transfers information gathered to a database that can be accessed from any computer through Internet.

Such device was developed by Guillermo Berra and Laura Finster from INTA Castelar, and Ricardo Bualo and Silvia Valtorta from the CONICET, and it consist of an electronic system that is fitted at the back of the livestock using a harness. It is fitted through the ruminal micro-fistules to a system of cannulas enabling direct communication with the inner part of the animal, just where methane gases are formed.

Once the gas is issued through the ruminal fistule, the telemetric equipment – which has a flow sensor – registers the volume of gas issued and it sends a signal that may be registered in a computer through Internet.

According to Bualo “such backpack can also measure the frequency with which the animal bites food, the speed they ruminate and the type of food that makes the animal to issue a higher amount of methane gas."

Thanks to such record and measurement of gases generated by ruminants, we can develop plans to reduce the amount of emissions that contribute to the contamination of our planet. Under this line of research researchers from the INTA Castelar can work to develop a balanced food of higher quality, which has preliminary reduced methane gas emissions by 12%.

This development has been presented in INNOVAR 2009, a National Contest for Innovations organized by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation.

Cows with backpacks to study climate change

Through the National Institute of Agrarian Technology (INTA), Argentine researches have created a backpack that is placed at the back of cows to measure the methane gas produced by such animals and to be able to reduce the emission of contaminating gases that have an impact on global warming. It is an electronic system installed with a harness fitted at the back of the livestock that enables measurement of emissions produced by livestock in different productive methods so that we may then develop policies to reduce such emissions.
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Guillermo Berra, a veterinarian from the National Institute of Agrarian Technology (INTA-Castelar)

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