20 Apr 2011

Lower methane emissions still years away

1:09 pm on 20 April 2011

Agresearch says it is still five to 10 years away from providing practical solutions to reduce methane emissions in livestock.

Methane is New Zealand's most prominent greenhouse gas and farm animals such as sheep, cattle and deer are major sources of that.

Research work to curb emissions is being done by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

Team leader Graeme Attwood says the major focus is on nutrition of farm animals, and the typical types of forages in New Zealand.

Dr Attwood says they are also targeting the genes and proteins in the organisms that make the methane in animals with vaccines, but practical applications are still at least five to 10 years away.

He says recent research work in the UK parallels nutritional work being done here.

A change of diet by feeding crushed rapeseed, maize silage and high-sugar grasses, has been found to help farm animals reduce methane emissions.