Methane Research Programme

The NZAGRC methane programme is jointly planned and funded in partnership with the PGgRc and aligns with existing MPI programmes funded through SLMACC and New Zealand funding in support of the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases. It aims to reduce emissions by directly targeting the methane producing methanogens through the discovery of small molecule inhibitors and vaccines and indirectly through feeding and changes in animal phenotype. 

 

  • Breeding: Research to understand the genetics of host control of ruminant methane emissions, which aims to develop genetic and genomic selection technologies to reduce methane yield and intensity in sheep. The current stage of the programme involves the development and dissemination of practical tools for selection for lowered emissions. A major part of maximising impact and uptake is to explore relative economic value from increased production and potential increased feed utilisation associated with lowered methane
  • Vaccine (jointly supported by PGgRc): A prototype vaccine (which after further development is aimed at producing a vaccine targeted at reducing methane emissions in cattle and sheep by 20%) is being formulated with the help of a commercial partner
  • Inhibitors (previously jointly funded but now fully funded by PGgRc): Research to develop cost-effective inhibitors that reduce methane emissions by at least 20% in sheep and cattle—without reducing productivity—is now being developed, with a view to bring the technology to market
  • Modelling: A tool to help scientists in the NZAGRC/PGgRc programme to develop hypotheses and predict responses in methane formation is in its final stages
Current progress and research stories

The current objectives within the NZAGRC methane programme have made significant progress this year, with the sheep breeding programme getting closer to delivering breeding values to the national flock.

1115 Rick Pridmore, Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability (DairyNZ)

Rick provided the conference delegates with an overview of the New Zealand investment landscape for reducing agricultural greenhouse gases.

He highlighted that New Zealand is putting in a great deal of effort into reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and conducting top class science, which in many areas is nearing proof of concept.

Rick also emphasised that there are a significant number of funders in this area covering government, industry, the universities and CRIs.

At the research end, the plans and investment are fairly coordinated, mainly due to the actions of the NZAGRC and PGgRc, however at the applied end there is room for improvement. This is primarily due to the fact that there are many issues to be considered on-farm and greenhouse gas emissions are just one of the factors in the mix.

New Zealand farm greenhouse gas emissions intensity has been decreasing at approximately 1% per year due to increased efficiency and the goal is to keep this rate going into the future, but on top of that, reduce emissions intensity by a further 1.5% per year by additional technological options. This 1.5% may be achieved by step changes between 2020 and 2050, rather than a gradual decline.

Rick outlined the four key research aims of the NZAGRC-PGgRc methane programme:

  • Animal Selection
  • Low greenhouse gas Feeds
  • Vaccine
  • Inhibitors

Breaking News: In the last four months, five lead inhibitor compounds have been shown to reduce methane emissions from animals by 30-90%, which is very exciting. Once proof of concept has been firmly established, commercial partners will be sought to take prototype vaccines and inhibitors through into the hands of the farming community. See more about this 

Rick concluded by pointing out that 10 years ago, the task of reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions seemed enormous, and that we should all be proud that we are nearly there.

Download presentation 

  1. pdf 05_Pridmore_1125.pdf (0.76MB)

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