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Carbon Farming – Methane Emissions

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Video Transcript

Agriculture and Methane Emissions

Methane has a carbon dioxide equivalent or what they call a global warming potential. of 21 times that of carbon dioxide. Agriculture as a whole is probably only about 15% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions livestock or methane from livestock is about 12% of Australia’s emissions, so not a large percentage, but again as I said it’s got a high global warming potential The research is looking at a number of aspects, they arrange around feeding, breeding, and rumen manipulation and animal management.

We’re looking at what we can feed animals now, today, tomorrow, to reduce methane. Cereal stubble is usually still reasonable quality even though it’s quite fibrous and the animals are picking up some of the grain at the same time as well, so the diet they’re getting is actually not that bad. They’re methane emissions wouldn’t be necessarily higher than they would be on pasture do help the rapes and kales and chickories and particularly lucerne will actually reduce relative to say a summer Rye grass that might be stalky and going to seed.

Eremophila, Certainly there’s some evidence that there’s chemicals in there that will actually reduce methane from the sheep. Saltbush unfortunately is likely more increase methane than decrease it. We’ve also looked at what additives can be brought in, so what byproducts of other processes product out of By- Ethenol Production.

Methane as a form  of energy

So how many mill brewers grind grape marc of the wine industry, cotton seed, and products out of bio-diesel like, cold pressed canola for example. The research is saying methane is a high form of energy, rather than just letting it go off as green house gas and loose that energy about ten percent of the gross energy intake of a ruminant can be lost as methane and we’re saying, well, can we put that back into production somehow?

So we actually get that energy back into production profitably and reduce methane at the same time. So that’s the focus of the work so a lot of the supplement work is looking at looking at breeding more efficient animals. There are efficiencies within breeds so some animals within a herd will actually be less methane producing than other and so we started look at whether they’re selected for.

Cross breeds usually are more efficient particularly the F1 hybrid cross breed, but generally per unit dry matter  intake, it’s the amount of fibrous forage they get into their rumen that really makes a difference. The carbon farming initiative might provide an incentive mechanism, but it’s not going to be the primary driver of the change.

Choose Emissions Strategies Based on Production Efficiency

So strategies should be chosen based on their production efficiency. and do they make profitable sense in the first place and then the carbon farming initiative income would be the cherry on the cake rather than the primary driver and I think it would be a mistake to actually look at, see if our income is as being competitive with your farm’s primary goal, which is the product you’re producing, if you’re focusing on just being more efficient.

In other words, you’re producing more product for less methane by just improving the grazing system, reducing the amount of times animals spend unproductive, improving the diet quality offered to them. All of those reduce the emissions intensity of the product we’re producing and both can win. Both reproduction efficiency as well as the environment.

Dr Richard Eckard of the University of Melbourne, talks about methane emissions, and how they relate to carbon farming.

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