Sheep urine study examines impact of greenhouse gas

Dr Mick Whelan and Professor Heiko Balzter from our Department of Geography have just started a three-year NERC-funded project to explore the interaction between livestock (sheep) grazing behaviour, urine composition and subsequent nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from urine patches.

Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas produced in the soil by micro-organisms. N2O is 180 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas, molecule for molecule than CO2.  Urine patches are now recognised as ‘hot-spots’ for N2O production and emission in grazed pastures.  It is, therefore, important to understand the factors which control emissions both locally and more broadly across wider areas.

In addition to the University of Leicester, the project combines a team of researchers from Bangor University (who lead the project) with Rothamsted Research, Swansea University (in connection with Texas A&M University).

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