Reducing farm animals’ wind by adding garlic to feed could substantially reduce greenhouse emissions, according to research by West Wales’ scientists featured by Euronews.
An organosulphur compound obtained from garlic kills off methane-producing bacterium in the digestive system of cows, according to Professor Jamie Newbold, who heads up a €5 million-research programme at Aberystwyth University.
Cows eating feed enriched with the garlic compound — called Allicin – release 40% less gas without interference to their normal digestive fermentation, according to the research.
Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and agricultural emissions constitute approximately 18% of global greenhouse gas production, Kenton Hart of Aberystwyth University told Euronews.
The scientists said cutting methane emissions by cows by 40% would substantially curtail global warming.
David Williams from Neem Biotech – which manufactures Allicin – said that supplying a quarter of the UK’s cattle herd would require five-and-a-half thousand tons of garlic a year, which he told the channel could be “very, very big business”.
The only negative is that Allicin appears to taint the taste of milk and other dairy products. So the researchers – who are also experimenting with sheep and other livestock – are looking at other kinds of garlic metabolites which would achieve the same effect, without the downside.