Agriculture is considered the largest source of ammonia emissions, with livestock producing more than half of it. Although ammonia produced by cattle excreta does not directly contribute to climate change, it is converted into climate-relevant nitrous oxide by microorganisms in the soil. If cattle were potty-trained, their excreta could be collected and treated, thus reducing ammonia emissions.
Indeed, cattle can be trained accordingly, as a joint project of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the Institute for Animal Welfare and Husbandry of the FLI in Celle and the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Dummerstorf shows. The publication on this 'proof of concept' has now appeared in the journal Current Biology.
'The next step must be to automate the teaching of the cattle and the 'cow loo',' says Lars Schrader from the FLI. 'That is the precondition for being able to use this procedure in practice'.