August 3, 2011 – Triple digit temperatures in Middle Georgia this summer, an ongoing heat wave across the south and rising sea levels are climatic changes that have attracted headlines worldwide.
Experts say some of the changes are occurring because of greenhouse gases. The gases are dispensed into the atmosphere by emissions from cars and the decay of organic waste in landfills.
On July 5, Dr. Gary Waghorn, senior research scientist for DairyNZ, a New Zealand-based sustainable agriculture organization gave a presentation about the issue at Fort Valley State University to researchers, professors and students.
His presentation focused on how to reduce greenhouse gas with animals, such as sheep and goats.
When the animals digest high levels of protein, excessive amounts of the greenhouse gas, methane, is released into the atmosphere.
The phenomenon is attracting the attention of scientists because New Zealand has more animals that produce methane than in the United States. Collectively, worldwide, the environment is negatively impacted when animals release greenhouse gas; but experts believe the long term impact of global warming can be reduced by educating animal producers about how to feed cows, sheep and goats.
“Methane from one dairy cow, in one year, can produce enough energy to run a car for 800 miles,” Waghorn said.
To reduce greenhouse gases among sheep and goat producers, Waghorn suggested improving agricultural management strategies.
“Improved farming efficiency reduces emission intensity, improves genetics for animals, promotes longer lactation periods and promotes good fertility,” Waghorn said. Farmers can do this by balancing the amount of protein and fiber in the diets of their animals. The information is useful for FVSU research scientists at the Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center on campus. The center is used for training, meat processing, research and education.
Waghorn’s presentation is a continuation of the monthly research seminars held the first Monday of each month in the Houston Stallworth Agricultural Research Building.
The monthly research seminars provide FVSU scientists, and partners who are actively participating in research, an opportunity to share their work. Dr. Mahipal Singh, an assistant professor in FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology began the seminars in 2009.
FVSU Agricultural Communications Department