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New Zealand’s agricultural GHG emissions mitigation research funding works together like a set of cogs, a well-oiled machine rather than individual funds working in isolation.
The PGgRc and NZAGRC are a central cog moving together to provide an overall push forward for targetted GHG mitigation research in New Zealand. These two research funds work with all sectors –government, science and industry while other funds contribute individual, focussed research outcomes to mprove New Zealand’s overall knowledge of how we can do more to improve efficiency and productivity, and introduce new mitigation strategies on farm. It’s also important that all this work links closely to improving New Zealand’s GHG inventory accounting methods both on farm and nationally, as well as drawing as much as possible on international expertise and collaborations, and contributing to expanding and accelerating the global search for GHG mitigation solutions.
There are many advantages in this approach to funding. New Zealand is able to support targeted work to address both international and national priorities. For example, meeting UNFCCC requirements as well as national targets for mitigation of biological emissions.
A multi-faceted approach allows New Zealand to cover a broad scope of work including the integration of agricultural mitigation research with impacts, adaptation and enhancement of forest sinks. This approach enables flexibility of resource input to cover a broad range of solution options - from very basic to very applied - while still maintaining the ability to direct focus to the most promising solution areas.
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The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has close involvement with all the GHG emissions mitigation funds and programmes, and ensures that all the mitigation research is co-ordinated efficiently without duplication of science effort.
The NZAGRC and PGgRc work together to facilitate closely aligned research into methane mitigation, which is carried out in science institutions around the country, often in collaboration with international research partners.
Initially, both parties generated plans to guide the direction of the research they fund, while actively co-ordinating and exchanging information between themselves and with MPI. This coordination occurred through informal communication as well as formally through representatives on their respective boards and steering groups.
Since 2014 the NZAGRC and PGgRc have had a single research programme and contracting mechanism for research into enteric methane to reduce administration costs and eliminate any risk of duplication while allowing the most focused investment in priority areas.
The PGgRc provide a critical link to the New Zealand agricultural industry. Through its investment partners, the research conducted maintains its relevance to industry, ensuring any solutions to reduce emissions can maintain or increase production levels while meeting the environmental concerns of international trading partners.
The NZAGRC has an administration contract with the New Zealand Government to oversee the management of funded projects from its Global Research Alliance investment. This provides a critical link back to the domestic programme of work and helps identify new investment opportunities for New Zealand’s own research programme.
Several research programmes are now in place that aim to reduce agriculture’s environmental impacts such as Pastoral 21 (partnership between MBIE, AgResearch, and Dairy and Meat industry organisations), Land and Environment Plans being offered by Beef + Lamb NZ, and DairyNZ research into forages that reduce nitrate leaching. These mainly focus on nitrates and water quality but many achieve emissions reductions as co-benefits.
The NZAGRC’s Integrated Farming Systems theme works with industry in some of these programmes to measure and demonstrate the extent to which more efficient farms also have lower GHG emissions. There are also links through joint MPI Primary Growth Partnership and industry funded programmes, which have GHG training, monitoring and mitigation components within them.