Feeds

Bubbly-belly-bugging boffins battle bovine belch peril

Tesco agro-surveillance to ward off cow-burpocalypse

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

In a desperate attempt to avoid all life on Earth being gradually suffocated by a growing global cloud of noxious cow-belch emissions, corporate chiefs have planted bugging devices on a herd of dairy cattle. The listening devices, it's hoped, may allow top-bracket scientists to sift valuable information from the creatures' rumbling, bubbling guts.

The news went mainstream this week thanks to quality UK news outlets the Sun and the Telegraph, but in fact they had been scooped by a matter of seven months or so by the Farmers Guardian, the real world's answer to the Country Gentleman's Pig Fertiliser Gazette of Blackadder fame. Covering the opening of the new Tesco Dairy Centre of Excellence back in January, agro-newshawk Joanne Pugh revealed the retail globocorp's plans to focus an intensive high-tech surveillance programme on the nation's cattle - all for their own good, of course.

Tesco and other agribiz execs discussed the development of "vocal tags where microphones can gauge the pitch of a cow ruminating. Any alteration to this pitch would identify a digestive problem". On top of this, there were plans to monitor cattle movements with "computer-based heat detection systems".

“By working in partnership we can ensure everything we do is right for cows and also makes perfect economic sense,” said Tesco bigwig Lucy Neville-Rolfe at the time.

Since then, crack supermarket surveillance operatives have monitored some 200 cattle intensively, recording and analysing every sound emitted by their volatile, planet-destroying digestive systems - and at times watching them on computer thermo-scan as well.

Not content with this, Tesco also collects large amounts of information on the possibly suspicious activities of cattle across the UK. Every farmer who wishes to sell milk to the supermarket mammoth must keep detailed files on each of his cattle, according to the Farmers Guardian.

It's hoped that the belly-bugging scheme in particular may allow bovine boffins to develop specialised feeds which would cut down on the amount of methane emitted from cows. Not only is the grassy gut-gas flammable - even explosive on occasion - but it is a fearsomely potent greenhouse gas, 25 times worse than carbon dioxide.

Pioneering Irish work has already established that feeding cattle fish-oil can yield a substantial cut in their methane emissions. This scheme is seen as rather expensive, however.

It would also be possible perhaps to implement a strategy of burning off surplus methane at the point of emission, cutting its environmental impact by 96 per cent and removing the fire and explosion hazard completely. The Reg has already called for a selfless campaign of fart-ignition by humans, but cows don't have the manipulative skill and grasp of environmental matters necessary to ignite their own vapours.

Truly environmentally-friendly farmers might institute a programme of manual cowbelch-lighting among their field personnel, but this would probably impose a crippling manpower burden. Even Prince Charles doesn't seem likely to stay the course.

“We are currently embarking on a number of research projects to reduce the carbon emissions from milk production,” said Tesco Director David North today.

In time, the Tesco belly-mike system may perhaps be hooked up to an automatic on-cow flare stack or patio-gas sequestration rig of some kind. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.