Climate researchers ‘potty train’ cows in New Zealand


SERIOUSLY NOW: Lindsay Matthews of the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology in New Zealand says the idea of toilet training cows started as a joke he made in a 2007 radio interview. —AFP

WELLINGTON — Scientists say they have successfully “potty trained” cows to urinate in a designated toilet area as part of a program aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

The team of New Zealand and German researchers admitted the idea began as a joke but said dealing with cows’ nitrogen-rich liquid waste could have genuine long-term climate benefits.

“If we could collect 10 or 20 percent of urinations, it would be sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emission and nitrate leaching significantly,” Auckland University’s Douglas Elliffe said.

Elliffe said the nitrogen in cow pee broke down into two problem substances over time—nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and…

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