Manure major contributor to rising nitrous oxide levels in atmosphere

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Sydney, August 31 (ANI): A new study has found manure is the major contributor to rising nitrous oxide levels since the beginning of last century.

According to a report by ABC Science, the study was carried out by soil scientist and study author Dr Eric Davidson from the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, US.

The research adds to the growing debate over how best to estimate the increase in human induced nitrous oxide (N2O) levels since the industrial revolution.

N2O, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced both naturally and by human activities such as primarily agriculture.

Davidson said that past studies have focused mainly on the contribution nitrogen fertilisers made to increasing N2O levels.

"Fertilisers are extremely important, but that's only part of the story," said Davidson.

He said that nitrous oxide levels started increasing in the late 19th century "long before we started using nitrogen fertilisers in the 1960's," he added.

Davidson realised there was another source not being accounted for.

Using historical records of fertiliser and manure production, Davidson was able to account for nitrous oxide levels in the atmosphere from 1860 to 2005.

"Manure production was, and presumably still is today, an important source of N2O," he said.

Davidson said that as meat consumption continues to increase, this would become a growing problem.

"The more we choose a carnivorous diet, as more and more people around the world are, there will be more demand to divert food crops to animal feed," he said.

Davidson said that the combination of increased fertiliser use for animal feed and the increase in manure is a "double whammy" for N2O levels.

"More attention should be paid on how to dispose of manure from livestock operations," he said.

Davidson's study comes just days after scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report into nitrous oxide and its effect on the environment.

They found that nitrous oxide has become the main human-produced substance damaging the planet's protective ozone layer and is likely to remain so throughout the century. (ANI)

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