Supergrass / Brachiaria

Brachiaria, or “supergrass” could help in the fight against global warming.
Image: Shutterstock

Nitrous oxide is more harmful than carbon dioxide or methane when it comes to global warming. Unfortunately, the gas makes up about 38% of all agriculture emissions, which are primarily from livestock production. Global warming is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and battled on multiple fronts, and the agriculture industry is one area where we could improve.

Research has shown that Brachiaria grass, nicknamed “supergrass,” inhibits the release of nitrous oxide, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the agriculture industry’s carbon footprint.

The supergrass, which originated in Africa, is a modified tropical grass already used for livestock grazing in several countries across the globe, including Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, Australia, and parts of Southeast Asia. Researchers have discovered certain chemicals within the grass that help bind nitrogen to the soil, making it more productive and better for the environment.

“On a conservative estimate, we assume that at least half of the gases can be saved in livestock production in tropical environments,” says International Centre for Tropical Agriculture’s Michael Peters. “I think this is the best strategy you can have in agriculture to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Though there are downsides to widespread use of the grass—lack of biodiversity, for example—researchers believe that Brachiaria grasses represent the best option available for reducing emissions in the agriculture industry, which is currently responsible for a whopping third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

According to scientists, the grass will bring higher productivity, less use of fertilizer, and lower levels of nitrate pollution from agriculture.

What do you think of implementing this modified tropical supergrass across the agriculture front?