Less Greenouse Gas Emissions from Cattle

Jan 28, 2016

cow-close-up.jpgMethane emissions from cattle in Australia are 24% lower than previously estimated, equivalent to 12.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, following analysis of new research data.

The research was undertaken over 8 years by scientists and officials from across Australia into ways to reduce methane emissions in Australian livestock. 


The new methodology also brings the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) in line with the estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body on the assessment of climate change.

CSIRO's Ed Charmley said the work was conducted because of concerns about the large differential between NGGI and IPCC methane emission figures for Australian cattle, and doubt surrounding the accuracy of previous calculation methodologies used for cattle, particularly northern Australian cattle.

"Different methods used to calculate emissions from livestock in temperate and tropical regions were based on studies done in the 1960s and 1990s, mainly with dairy cattle," Dr Charmley said.

MLA General Manager, On Farm Innovation, Matthew McDonagh said the results of this Australian research clearly show our cattle contribute substantially less to methane emissions than previously believed.

"This is positive news for the Australian livestock sector as it seeks to continually improve its production efficiencies and demonstrate its environmental credentials," Dr McDonagh said.

MLA Manager, Sustainable Feedbase, Tom Davison, said the latest research findings also identified a number of management measures producers can implement to substantially reduce methane emissions while increasing productivity.

"Some of these are as simple as integrating leucaena into grazing systems, improving growth rates or herd reproductive performance, while other future techniques may include feeding red-algae to livestock," Dr Davison said.

The analysis of Australian cattle research data was conducted by CSIRO, the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of New England and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, with technical input from the Australian Government Department of Environment.

For more information about the BMRG’s Carbon Farming Project or to discuss opportunities for landholders, please contact Sue Sargent on (07) 4181 2999.



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