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Another Way Wine May Benefit Us

Cows - two

March 11, 2016 – We all love to read about the health benefits of wine but here’s one you probably haven’t heard about.

It comes from Australia where the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) is experimenting with feeding grape pomace to livestock to reduce methane emissions.  Pomace is what’s left after crushing the grapes for winemaking.  It has been discovered that it works on the digestive system of sheep and cattle and reduces methane production.

A cow releases as much as 120kg or 265 pounds of methane per year.  Unfortunately, there is no description of how the scientists weigh it, but we digress.

AWRI is exploring ways to collect the pomace, dry it and turn it into feed that doesn’t go moldy.  It would then have to be transported to where the cows are.  Geoff Cowey, senior winemaker at AWRI, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation “The most important value of grape marc [pomace] is that it can be potentially cheaper than things like grains and other feeds.”  However he pointed out that “You don’t want to process it too much where it suddenly becomes quite expensive, so you are spending more money to make something in a reuse fashion. So it’s about smarter use.”  A study conducted in Australia between 2009 and 2012 found that grape pomace significantly reduces livestock methane emissions.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, methane produces 23 times more global warming potential even though it occurs in lower concentrations than carbon dioxide.  Livestock are a man-made source along with burning fossil fuel and accidental release during drilling for natural gas.