In one Hundred Years of Solitude, an estate of Antioquia in northwestern colombia, whose name is a tribute to the writer Gabriel García Márquez, there was a goose called Amaranta, lived Aureliano, a bull orejinegro; and explores a new way of contributing to the environment: the cows eat a shrub called button of gold and thus produce less greenhouse gases. In other words, thanks to this diet, the cows breathe less flatulence and the methane gas, which is produced in the digestive system of ruminants, it is less for each litre of milk or kilo of meat produced.


A molecule ‘antacid’ against the emission of methane from cows methane threat the fight against climate change in The most environmentally friendly… what do you not have cows?

cattle is one of the biggest generators of climate change. According to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), livestock is responsible for nearly 10% of the emissions in the world. According to the report Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028, the FAO and the OECD, Colombia is in third place in the emission of greenhouse gases from livestock, after Uruguay and Argentina. That’s why the project of sustainable livestock that develop in one Hundred Years of Solitude and other farms in Colombia reduces those effects to the environment.

“The rumen (belly of the cow) hosts an enormous number and diversity of microorganisms involved in the digestive process of the plant fiber and produce methane. The more fibrous the diet of the cows, the more methane is released in the digestive process and therefore, the greater is the contribution of ruminants to greenhouse effect,” says Ms Street, one of the owners of the farm and researcher at the Centre for Research in Sustainable Systems of Agricultural Production (Cipav).

instead, the button of gold has less fiber and when cows eat it they produce better milk. “The grass has between 13% and 19% of protein per each kilogram of biomass, while the button is from 25% to 29%. That means that we don’t have to give them many supplements or concentrates to the cattle,” adds Street about the advantages of this plant, whose flower is yellow, strong smell of honey and that it grows from sea level to lands above 2,000 meters.

But not only the button of gold is used in the diet of cattle for its properties less fibrous. Also the trees of leucaena, matarratón and pods of played by ear, can help to reduce emissions, adds Manuel Gómez, general Coordinator of the Project Livestock Colombian Sustainable in the Federation of Livestock of Colombia, Fedegán.

Capture of CO2

Although one Hundred years of Solitude is a pioneer, is not the only farm in Colombia, where he feeds the cows with the button of gold. According to Julián Chará, coordinator of research project Livestock Colombian Sustainable Cipav, to 4,000 producers participate in a program of silvopastoral systems, which consists in incorporating fruit trees, timber and forage, the latter, you can eat the cattle. They started in 2010 and have the support of the Fund for the Global Environment facility (GEF), the government of the United Kingdom, the Colombian Federation of Ranchers, The Nature Conservancy and the Fund for Environmental Action, with supervision from the World Bank. “Until now we have achieved the protection of 45,000 hectares of sustainable systems of livestock production and have protected 15,000 acres of forest that were already in there,” said Chará.

Then, in addition to the diet of livestock to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planting of trees and the increase of organic matter in the soil, also allow the capture and storage of CO2; and the reduction of emissions by eliminating burning, and deforestation in the farms. “So, instead of delivering CO2 to the atmosphere this is absorbed by the soil and the plants. And this changes the equation of what it means to the livestock to climate change,” says Ms Street after seeing to the cows, devour a batch of button of gold.

while this is not a massive program -Colombia has 600,000 farmers – yes aims to convince the ranchers that, in addition to being more economical to them, incorporate plants such as the button of gold it also helps to control erosion of their land, to take care of the water sources and in a larger dimension, to reduce the environmental impact.