Methane research programme

Research to reduce New Zealand’s main agricultural greenhouse gas

The NZAGRC’s methane research programme targets a reduction in emissions from two main sources in New Zealand agriculture: enteric methane produced by the digestive systems of ruminant animals, and methane emitted from manure management. The programme builds on nearly a decade of jointly funded work by the NZAGRC and the PGgRC.

Breeding

Our research has identified genetic markers in low-methane-emitting sheep and incorporated them into breeding indices. A similar breeding programme for dairy cattle is now underway.

2.1a NZ cattle

Low-emitting dairy cattle

We are identifying low-emitting dairy cows and bulls and developing a national methane dairy breeding programme.

More about low-emitting cattle
2.1b Sheep in Portable Accumulation Chambers

Low-emitting sheep

New Zealand breeders can now measure and rank their sheep based on their methane emissions, thanks to our sheep-breeding programme.

More about low-emitting sheep

Feeds

Our research has shown that some supplementary feeds ferment differently in the rumen and produce less methane per unit of feed consumed.

2.1c Forage rape

Alternative forages

We are investigating the effects on ruminant methane emissions of including different proportions of plantain, forage rape and other alternative forages in the diet.

More about feeds

Inhibitors

A methane inhibitor is a chemical compound fed to an animal to reduce the production of methane in the rumen.

2.1d NZ cows coming in for milking

Inhibitor delivery

Our research is looking at different ways to deliver small molecule methane inhibitors safely and effectively to New Zealand’s predominantly grazing livestock.

More about methane inhibitors

Vaccine

A successful methane vaccine would trigger an animal's immune system to generate antibodies in saliva that suppress the growth of methane-producing microbes (methanogens) in the rumen.

2.1e methanogen

Developing an anti-methanogen vaccine

Research is focused on identifying the right antigens that will inhibit the growth and function of methanogens in the rumen.

More about vaccine research

Manure

Manure management is a minor source of methane emissions in New Zealand, but technologies used in other countries might benefit farmers here.

2.1f cowpat

Reducing manure from stored wastes

We are assessing available technologies for reducing methane emissions from stored animal waste to see how they might work in New Zealand.

More about manure emissions

The science of methane

2.1g Sheep in methane chambers

Where does methane come from, and why must it be addressed if New Zealand is to achieve its climate change targets?

More about methane science

Explore publications

Use the filters and search facility in our Publications archive to view peer-reviewed papers, reports, factsheets and other material that relate to our methane research.

Publications