Scientific trials in Argentina could soon give a very different look to one of Jersey's most famous country scenes - and the Environment Minister has urged farmers not to rule it out.
The scientists have come up with a novel way of harvesting the potent greenhouse gas, methane, which is produced by cows as they digest their food, and turning it into green energy. Cows are fitted with backpacks which collect the methane from their stomach via a tube, and the gas is then used to power fridges, and even cars.
Jersey’s Environment Minister, Deputy Rob Duhamel, says this green idea may seem outlandish, but shouldn't be rejected without proper investigation:
“Methane release to the atmosphere is a serious contributor to climate change and we must take the bigger issues seriously.
“Perhaps similar thought could be given to dog owners to invest in strap-on bags to their dog’s end to capture the animal faeces in a way that doesn’t require the owner to pick up by hand or with a specially designed pooper scooper!”
The problem caused by the Island's cattle expelling methane into the air is one local farmers are already working on. St Saviour farmer Andrew Le Gallais, who keeps a herd of more than 200 Jersey cows, said that the Milk Marketing Board is closely monitoring research being carried out by the University of Reading, and he is hopeful local farmers will soon be able to adopt some of their methods to help reduce methane emissions.
He said: “They're doing a lot of work on this, there is no simple quick fix, but we can do things to minimise methane – looking at the different varieties of grass, different proportions of forage - and this is all starting to gain pace.”
The university research involves feeding cattle in a confined area and measuring how much methane they are breathing out.
But Mr Le Gallais says Jersey cows shouldn't be getting all the blame for polluting the atmosphere, and the Island should be focusing on vehicle emissions instead.
He said: “We intend to do our bit as a dairy industry but hope other aspects of industry will do their bit too.”
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