NZ Investment Boosts Global Research into Livestock Emissions

Ten years of international scientific research into livestock emissions, brought about by a New Zealand Government initiative, is achieving success in bringing scientists from different countries together to understand the impact of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions on the environment and develop effective strategies to measure and reduce these emissions.

LEARN (Livestock Emissions Abatement Research Network) has succeeded in building capability in many countries by inviting scientists to work in New Zealand alongside their Kiwi counterparts, or in some cases sending New Zealand scientists overseas to learn more about what work is being done internationally.

A number of successes have been achieved, with LEARN recipients starting research initiatives in their own countries and passing on the expertise which they gained through the scheme.

LEARN is an awards scheme funded by the New Zealand Government through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to build international capability in livestock emissions research. The scheme is administered by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and forms part of New Zealand’s contribution to the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA).

The GRA aims to increase international cooperation and investment in research activities to help reduce the emissions intensity of agricultural production systems and increase their potential for soil carbon sequestration.

LEARN is focused on:

  • Supporting technical staff and scientists from developing countries and GRA member countries to work alongside New Zealand colleagues
  • Sharing knowledge on livestock greenhouse gas emissions measurement, modelling and mitigation practices to increase the level of scientific skills and technological capabilities internationally
  • Supporting strategic research and capability-building activities that align with the priorities of the GRA as well as relevant New Zealand science priorities
  • Advancing common research interests between countries and building enduring relationships


Different categories

Over the past decade, four award types have been offered, with New Zealand currently investing in two – the LEARN Technical Training and GRASS awards.

The Technical Training Award provides funds for technical staff from developing countries to receive training in New Zealand on equipment, tools or methods that when applied in their home organisation/country will improve the measurement and understanding of livestock greenhouse gas emissions.

The GRASS Award provides funds for exchanges between New Zealand senior scientists and contemporaries from other GRA member countries to enable collaboration on research or related activities in the field of livestock greenhouse gas mitigation.

It is the only award which allows a New Zealand scientist to travel overseas and aims to create enduring collaborations between New Zealand and other countries, helping advance novel techniques and approaches for reducing livestock greenhouse gas emissions.

Two other award types -- the Co-funded PhD Scholarship supporting a PhD student from a developing country to benefit from having supervision in a New Zealand research organisation, and the LEARN Postdoctoral Fellowship providing funds for an emerging scientist from a developing country to complete a research project in New Zealand – have also been given in the last ten years and will be offered again in future.


Global spread

Over the last nine years a total of 44 LEARN Awards have been granted to people from 25 countries.  This  includes four PhD researchers (coincidentally all of whom have come from China), nine Postdoctoral Fellows (mostly from Asia but including two from Latin America) and 14 people receiving Technical Training Awards (half from Latin America, three from Asia and four from Africa).

The 16 GRASS awards have involved 13 international scientists coming to New Zealand from the Netherlands (two), Denmark (two), Spain, Ireland, USA (three), Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Australia and three Kiwis going abroad to China and various European countries.

From an investment of about $1.7 million, the LEARN Awards have returned many success stories in terms of research initiatives and helping elevate the researchers to positions where they can lead international projects.

Veronica Ciganda, one of the first Technical Training Award recipients, is now one of the leading agricultural research scientists in Uruguay. Fellow Technical Training Award recipient Chernet Woju is now involved in a project to set up Ethiopia’s first methane measurement facility financed by the World Bank.

Co-funded PhD Scholarship recipient Jie Li is applying her knowledge of soil nutrient cycling and losses from farming systems to three projects in her native China and has won Chinese funding for research into the effects of nitrification inhibitors, comparing nitrogen loss from fertilisers and the original soil.

Dr Bambang Hari Kusumo’s experience in New Zealand as a LEARN Post Doctoral Fellow has led to him translating his knowledge of soil carbon and agricultural methane mitigation within a completely different type of agriculture – the rice fields of Indonesia.

His work has also encouraged the Indonesian Government to consider intensified rice-growing techniques without the need for flooding the fields.

The very first LEARN GRASS Award recipient, Dr Cecile de Klein, went from New Zealand to the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands to focus principally on nitrous oxide mitigation strategies. She is now Principal Scientist with AgResearch and leads five studies on greenhouse gas mitigation within New Zealand and internationally.

The GRA’s Special Representative, New Zealand’s Hayden Montgomery, says LEARN shows the successes that can be achieved internationally with a small investment to assist connectivity and open doors.

“A huge amount of collaboration is possible that benefits not only participating scientists but also their countries, as well as leading to global advancement of science in that area,” he says.

Attached are full profile articles on Chernet Woju, Jie Li, Bambang Kusomo, Cecile de Klein and Veronica Ciganda, detailing their experiences of the LEARN Awards programme and the work they have done since.


Further information can be found at https://livestockemissions.net and www.globalresearchalliance.org

Email: awards@nzagrc.org.nz