New Zealand farm reduces cow burps, methane emissions


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | October 14, 2022

Trials in New Zealand suggest that calves emit 20 percent fewer methane emissions after receiving probiotics, according to Shalome Bassett, a scientist at Fonterra Research and Development Centre. Since the trial, New Zealand said it would cut biogenic methane emissions by 10% on 2017 levels by 2030 and up to 47% by 2050.

Cows in New Zealand are fed Kowbucha, a probiotic that reduces burps, or methane emissions. Scientists at Fonterra have been undergoing trials on cows since 2021 to determine if the Kowbucha reduces methane emissions.

“Probiotics are great because they’re a really natural solution,” Bassett told Reuters. “Whatever we do, it has to be something that’s easy for the farmer to use, has to be cost-effective, and we have to ensure that it’s good for the cow and doesn’t have any effect on the milk.”

In 2025, New Zealand will become the first country to charge for agricultural emissions, including cow and sheep burping. As of now, agricultural emissions account for over half of the country’s emissions. 

Fonterra hopes to have Kowbucha in stores by 2024 before prices are put on emissions.

On the Radio- Biodiversity may reduce asthma


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A look at New Zealand’s unique flora. (Tatiana G/flickr)

Eden DeWald | July 23, 2018

This week’s segment details a study that found a correlation in asthma reduction and a biodiverse environment.

Transcript:

Biodiverse living spaces can have a positive affect on your child’s health

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A new study by the USDA Forest Service found that children who lived in areas with more plant biomass or more biodiversity were less likely to develop asthma. Plant biomass refers to the total percentage of plant life, where plant biodiversity refers to the different types of plant life in an area. The Forest Service collaborated with Massey University in New Zealand to track 50,000 children’s health condition using the country’s comprehensive data base that compiles health information data from most New Zealand citizens.

The study concluded that areas with more plant biomass lessened the risk of developing asthma by six percent while areas with more plant biodiversity reduced the risk of developing asthma by seven percent. In 2015, one in twelve Iowans suffered from asthma. The Forest Service study demonstrates the value of a green environment to our health.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

78 foot wave recorded in the Southern Hemisphere


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A wave washes ashore (Warrick W/flickr)

Eden DeWald | May 16th, 2018

On May 8th, the largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere was formed off the coast of New Zealand. The wave reached a massive 78 feet as it was measured  by a buoy in the Southern Ocean.

Most waves are caused by winds interacting and transferring energy into ocean watersScientists speculate that these record breaking waves, such the 78 foot record breaker, are a result of smaller surface wave combining to form a more massive wave.

However, 78 feet might not be the of the actual peak size of the wave.  The buoys used to measure the wave do not record measurements constantly, so the wave could have reached an even higher maximum height than recorded.

The previous record for the largest wave in the Southern Hemisphere happened in 2012 and occurred near Tasmania, at height of 72 feet. The largest wave ever recorded was in 1995, and  was measured at 84 feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tom Durrant, a New Zealand oceanographer, stated that waves are likely to increase in size according to predictive climate models that foresee more powerful storms in the future. Stronger storms are conducive to stronger winds—creating the potential for even bigger waves.