Plants & GHGs

The NZAGRC’s former nitrous oxide and soil carbon work streams were combined into one programme this year. This ensures a strong overall framework, closer communication and full GHG analyses across the programme. The programme focusses on three key areas:

1. Identifying and prioritising plant traits for low GHG emissions;

2. Mitigation practices to maintain soil carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale; and

3. Defining the achievable soil carbon stabilisation capacity of New Zealand grassland soils.

Current progress and research stories

Why do we need to measure?

Agriculture produces greenhouse gas emissions in a number of ways: direct emissions by livestock, emissions from the production of livestock feed, energy use in fertiliser manufacture, farm operations such as milking, refrigeration and housing, and food storage and transport.

Globally, direct emissions from livestock and feed production make up about 80% of total agriculture emissions. This percentage is even higher in New Zealand (97%) because of the dominance of the livestock sector. Most of our animals spend all their time outside grazing on pasture. This poses a stiff challenge for the measurement, quantification and mitigation of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand has invested significantly in the search for cost effective measures to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and this has required New Zealand scientists to develop best practice techniques for quantifying these emissions.

Why we need to measure

There are five key reasons why measurement matters for New Zealand agriculture:

  1. To understand trends and identify how much agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions relative to other sectors both nationally and internationally
  2. To develop effective ways to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, e.g. identifying naturally low methane
    emitting animals for breeding programmes
  3. To find out whether actions intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are effective when they are applied in practice
  4. To meet international obligations to monitor progress against commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and subsequent agreements
  5. To enable companies to monitor and report on their greenhouse gas footprint.

Read more about methane measurement

Read more about nitrous oxide measurement

Read more about reducing aricultural greenhouse gas emissions research

Read more about New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions profile


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