Methane inhibitors

The NZAGRC’s methane inhibitor programme is looking at ways to develop and deliver a methane-reducing compound to animals in New Zealand’s pastoral farming systems.

Current projects

Project title Lead organisation/s
Novel delivery of methanogen-specific inhibitors Victoria University
Targeting methanol formation for methane AgResearch
Molecular tools for methane mitigation University of Auckland
Inhibiting ruminal methane using bromoform AgResearch
On-farm delivery of methane inhibitors DairyNZ


A methane inhibitor is a chemical compound that blocks critical enzymatic pathways in rumen-dwelling methanogens, restricting their growth and ability to produce methane. To be effective, a methane inhibitor needs to be present in the rumen while the animal is digesting its feed.

Research in New Zealand, initially funded by the NZAGRC and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) but, since 2017, solely funded by PGgRc, has sought to discover and develop inhibitors that will be effective in grazing systems. Work is focused on advancing lead compounds capable of reducing methane by 20–30 percent, delivered to grazing livestock via technologies such as slow release rumen capsules.

 New Zealand dairy cows coming in for milking

New Zealand dairy cows coming in for milking

Globally, a Dutch company, DSM Nutritional Products, has developed and successfully trialled a compound called 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), known commercially as Bovaer®. It achieved reductions in methane emissions of between 22 and 35 percent in cattle in housed systems, without any detrimental effect on animal productivity or welfare. However, in its current formulation, Bovaer® must be present in every mouthful of feed to achieve full efficacy. This is problematic for New Zealand’s pasture-based systems.

The current focus for NZAGRC-led research is in investigating novel, low cost and practical methods to deliver methane inhibitors to grazing ruminants. The NZAGRC Innovation Fund is supporting additional projects that are focused on identifying methane inhibitors.