DairyNZ leads some research programmes and is partnering with others e.g. AgResearch, LIC and CRV, in other projects.
This includes research into different farm system options, such as feed types and use, improved fertiliser and effluent use, and options for on-farm sequestration of carbon.
DairyNZ is also carrying out farm systems research with companies that are developing products to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The research will ensure the products are suitable for New Zealand pasture-based systems and help achieve our GHG targets. Our aim is to ensure the most relevant products are available for our farmers sooner.
Below is a snapshot of some of the wide range of climate change research projects DairyNZ is involved in.
DairyNZ Low-N Project
DairyNZ is leading a Low-N Livestock programme, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce nitrogen (N) leaching to improve our waterways, and help farmers meet regulatory requirements. See the Low Nitrogen Livestock Programme page.
DairyNZ invests around $1 million a year into climate change emissions reduction research, mainly through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, and works closely with the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC). Research underway that DairyNZ is involved in partnership with PGgRc and/or NZAGRC includes:
This work aims to reduce total ruminant methane emissions by at least 30 percent. The vaccine forms antibodies to attack methane producing microbes called methanogens. It is currently at the laboratory testing stage.
This research is investigating feeding substances to ruminant animals to reduce methanogen activity. An example that has showed promise in overseas research is seaweed. Overseas trials have shown significant (e.g. 20 percent) reductions in methane emissions from cows consuming methane inhibitory products currently in research and development programmes. The substances and delivery mechanisms need to be tested in New Zealand’s pasture-based systems to understand potential benefits here.
Selective breeding (low methane animals)
Research has confirmed that there is a potential genetic basis for reducing methane emissions in dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep. Lower emitting animals have a different rumen environment which produces less methane per unit of feed eaten. Breeding for this trait could result in a potential reduction of between three and eight percent per year over a 20-year timeframe.
Low methane forages
Research is underway to investigate forages which can reduce methane emissions and nitrogen losses. Identifying and validating these feeds will mean recommended feeding regimes can be developed based on current and new feeding options – for use in different farm systems. The work includes exploring potential methane reductions from feeding plantain.
Reducing nitrous oxide and leaching
Research is underway to develop new and support existing technologies to develop on-farm management options to help reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
On-farm delivery of methane inhibitors project
DairyNZ is supporting a project with NZAGRC and other partners to investigate delivery mechanisms for feeding methane inhibitors to dairy cows. The methane inhibitors currently in development are only effective while they are in the rumen, so the research is looking at how best to deliver the inhibitors to animals in a grazing situation. The aim is to find practical, cost effective farmer friendly solutions to use feed additives or rumen inhibitors in pasture-based systems.
DairyNZ is involved in research led and funded by NZAGRC looking to breed low-methane cows. NZAGRC is currently funding a programme to identify bulls from CRV and LIC that produce less methane per unit of feed eaten. The next stage will be to investigate the performance of their progeny. Genetic selection for low methane yielding animals has already been successful in sheep, such that a flock has been generated that produces approximately 10 percent less methane per unit feed eaten, than other sheep.