Swiss study finds cows are not so bad for the environment

Swiss study finds cows are not so bad for the environment

A study conducted in Switzerland has found that Swiss cows are less harmful to the environment than previously thought, as the amount of nitrous oxide produced by the animals accounts for less than 5 percent of all nitrous oxide emissions. 

Study carried out in Thurgau shows cows aren’t so bad after all

The study, which was carried out in Canton Thurgau, found that nitrous oxide emissions from cows are much lower than previously estimated. Researchers from Agroscope, Switzerland’s agricultural research institute, studied the cows and the production of nitrous oxide - a gas that has around 265 times greater climate-warming impact than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Agriculture is responsible for two-thirds of nitrous oxide emissions in Switzerland, but grazing cows are now estimated to cause just 5 percent of those emissions. Emissions of nitrous oxide produced by cows tend to be lower in years in which there is less rainfall. 

Two-year long study carried out near Tänikon in Thurgau

The study used various instruments to measure the concentration of nitrous oxide in the air and on the ground at a pasture near Tänikon in Thurgau. Cameras were then used to measure how many cows were in the measuring area producing nitrous oxide at any one time. 

The amount of nitrous oxide produced by cows is dependent on local environmental factors such as the weather, soil quality and humidity. The results from the new study by Agroscope will now be included in the greenhouse gas inventory of the Federal Office for the Environment.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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