- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) developed feed supplement called Harit dhara which will that reduces methane emissions (anti-methanogenic) and also boosts milk production.
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- Harit Dhara acts by decreasing the population of protozoa microbes in the rumen, responsible for hydrogen production and making it available to the archaea for reduction of CO2 to methane.
- It has been prepared using condensed and hydrolysable tannin-rich plant-based sources abundantly available in the country.
- Tropical plants containing tannins – bitter and astringent chemical compounds – are known to suppress or remove protozoa from the rumen.
- But lowering of enteric methane emissions may not sufficient economic justification for farmers to feed Harit Dhara.
- This anti-methanogenic feed supplement Harit Dhara also does is change the composition of the volatile fatty acids that are the end-products of rumen fermentation.
- The biological energy loss from methane emission can be rechanneled and utilised by the animal for milk production and growth.
METHANE PRODUCTION IN CATTLE
- Rumen, the first of the four stomachs where they eat plant material, cellulose, fibre, starch and sugars. These get fermented or broken down by microorganisms prior to further digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Carbohydrate fermentation leads to production of CO2 and hydrogen. These are used by microbes (Archaea) present in the rumen to produce methane.
BASICS OF METHANE
- Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas.
- Methane is also a greenhouse gas (GHG), so its presence in the atmosphere affects the earth’s temperature and climate system.
- Methane is emitted from a variety of anthropogenic (human-influenced) and natural sources.
- Natural sources of methane include tropical and northern wetlands, methane-oxidizing bacteria that feed on organic material consumed by termites, volcanoes, seepage vents of the seafloor in regions rich with organic sediment, and methane hydrates trapped along the continental shelves of the oceans and in polar permafrost.
- Anthropogenic sources currently account for approximately 70 percent of total annual emissions, leading to substantial increases in concentration over time.
- The major anthropogenic sources of atmospheric CH4 are rice cultivation, livestock farming, the burning of coal and natural gas, the combustion of biomass, and the decomposition of organic matter in landfills. Future trends are particularly difficult to anticipate. This is in part due to an incomplete understanding of the climate feedbacks associated with CH4 emissions.