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Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre awards contracts

The MAF funded New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre (NZAGRC) has announced on behalf of its nine partners, the first 18 science programmes that will receive long term funding through the Centre. The Centre’s science programme will accelerate progress in world class research programmes; some of which are already underway in New Zealand and others that will open up promising new areas of research. The total value of this initial investment is $15.5m over four years.

NZAGRC Director Dr Harry Clark said “This important long term research programme has been signed off by government with significant input from a range of talented, senior scientific experts. The research programme includes work to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions, increase soil carbon accumulation and to develop the tools needed to design novel, practical and credible farm systems that maintain/enhance profitability while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

The Methane Programme builds on existing well-targeted research funded through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRC) and Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) programme. Principal research areas include the development of inhibitors that suppress the organisms responsible for producing methane, breeding animals which produce less methane and the testing of novel, low methane producing animal feeds.

A new research project is taking a fresh look at the viability of collecting methane produced from animal wastes. Rupert Craggs (NIWA) and Adrian Walcroft (Landcare Research) are developing a ‘decision support’ tool to help dairy farmers determine if it is economicall viable for them to invest in technologies that capture biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) emitted from animal waste storage ponds and treatment systems.

Work in the Nitrous Oxide Programme builds on the research already undertaken to successfully develop nitrification inhibitors that can reduce emissions of nitrous oxide from urine patches by around 70%. The Centre’s work programme concentrates on making their response even more efficient and consistent across the variety of environmental soil conditions found in New Zealand. A major new research programme led by Dr Susanne Rasmussen (AgResearch) will focus on the feasibility of growing high-yielding pasture species with a lower nitrogen content. If feasible, this would open up the possibility of farmers being able to maintain pasture productivity while reducing the amount of nitrogen excreted; leading to multiple environmental benefits for example improvements in greenhouse gas emissions and water quality.

The Centre’s research programme on soil carbon is designed to move beyond quantifying how much soil carbon is stored in agricultural soils into the challenging area of understanding the processes driving soil carbon storage rates and, crucially, manipulating these processes so that agricultural soil carbon is conserved and, where possible, increased. A suite of programmes will seek to define the upper limits of soil carbon storage in New Zealand soils and compare this with estimates of the current quantities of carbon stored, so as to estimate what scope there is to increase soil carbon storage. Work led by Dr David Whitehead (Landcare Research) will involve a mix of modelling and experimental approaches to develop practical and proven methods for increasing the rates of soil carbon storage in agricultural soils.

Farmers manage complex systems and constantly make decisions involving trade-offs The Centre’s integrated farm systems research programme concentrates on ‘joining’ up the science from a number of sources by looking at how individual technologies and practices can be combined into practical, credible and cost effective low GHG emitting farm systems. To help dairy, sheep, beef farmers manage their GHG emissions, Dave Clark (DairyNZ) and Robyn Dynes (AgResearch) lead the development of a suite of linked models that can simulate key elements of the farm system, so researchers can quantify the effects that changed management practices have on total farm GHG emissions and profitability.

The announcement of funded projects was made today by Dr Harry Clark, Director of the NZAGRC, which is a collaboration of AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Massey University, NIWA, the PgGRC, Plant & Food Research and Scion.

ENDS

For further information contact:
Dr Victoria Bradley
Centre Operations Manager
T: 06 351 8336
E: victoria.bradley@nzagrc.org.nz

pdf Agricultural Greenhous Gas Centre Awards Contract (0.34MB) 
 


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