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New grass developed to curb greenhouse gas emissions
Friday November 8, 2013 6:51 PM, IANS

A new kind of grass has been developed with the joint efforts of scientists from Japan and Colombia to curb greenhouse gas emissions caused by chemical fertilisers.

Scientists from Japan's International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences and the Colombian International Centre for Tropical Agriculture found a species of grass that originated in Africa and grows in Latin America called brachiaria, reports Xinhua.

This grass releases substances from its roots that curb activities of micro-organisms and sharply cuts the amount of nitrous oxide emitted.

The new species of grass, which was developed based on hybridisation between brachiaria and its relative species, has the emission curbing function. It also provides more nutrition to cows compared to existing grass species and promotes their growth, said the researchers.

Most of the widely used nitrogen fertilisers could turn into nitric acid in soil and some of this nitric acid turns into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 300 times more warming power than carbon dioxide.

Nitric acid also leaks from farmland and pollutes groundwater and damages river and ocean ecosystems.

Researchers have already started to plant the grass in South America.

Guntur Subarao, senior researcher at the Japanese research centre, said the development of the new grass would be a key technology to expand agricultural production in line with an increase in the global population while curbing the use of nitrogen fertilisers, according to Japan's Kyodo News.

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