Agriculture, you see, is a gassy business. The 1.3 billion large ruminantsâ€”dairy cows and beef cattle, buffalo, sheep, goatsâ€”that burp, fart, and poop around the world emit more greenhouse gases than does the transportation industry, according to the UN.
These animals are responsible for about a third of global emissions of methane, a gas that makes up half of farming’s contribution and is even more potent than the much-maligned CO2.
So any animal helping to quell gas release invites investigation. In a paper published August 7 in the journal PLOS ONE, Atte PenttilÃ¤ and colleagues from the University of Helsinki report on experiments designed to see whether dung beetles affect how much methane is released from cow patties, the dung heaps that dot farm pastures.