Filling the Research Gap - Livestock Methane Research

​The following projects are being funded under Filling the Research Gap round one and round two to undertake livestock methane research. Those funded under round one are part of the National Livestock Methane Program, coordinated by Meat and Livestock Australia.


[expand all]

Coordination of the National Livestock Methane Program—Meat and Livestock Australia — Tom Davidson.

Funding of $1,350,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will coordinate and manage the National Livestock Methane Program. The program will assist livestock producers to reduce methane emissions by conducting research under a nationally agreed collaborative program including nutrition, rumen processes, genetics, modelling focussed on abatement and increased farm productivity that will underpin methodology development for the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Measuring methane in the rumen under different production systems as a predictor of methane emissions—CSIRO — Chris McSweeney.

Funding of $353,265 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project progresses the development of an intra-ruminal capsule developed under the Reducing Emissions from Livestock Research Program (2008–2012) to measure rumen methane concentrations. This project will validate the use of an intra-ruminal capsule to determine methane yield by the animal under a range of feeding systems. Measurement of methane yield and concentration will allow emissions intensity, total emissions and efficiency of rumen fermentation and will provide important data for modelling and emerging policies under the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Development of gas selective membranes (for intra-ruminal capsules)—RMIT University — Simon Liddle.

Funding of $840,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to develop polymeric and/or nanomaterial (gas selective membranes) to improve methane gas measurement. The project will develop membranes to tackle the challenges of sensing systems to: improve the selectivity for specific gases in the methane gas measurement environment, the diffusion rates of specific gases and allow simultaneous sampling for microbial analyses. This project will be undertaken in collaboration with the CSIRO project "Measuring methane in the rumen under different production systems as a predictor of methane emissions".

Evaluating and optimisation of GreenFeed Emission Monitoring units for measuring methane emissions from sheep and cattle—University of New England — Belinda Snell.

Funding of $465,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will be delivered through international collaboration. It aims to evaluate and optimise the capability of GreenFeed Emission Monitoring (GEM) units to quantify daily methane emissions of grazing sheep and cattle. This capability is required to verify mitigation claims for Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies, to facilitate mitigation research and validate national inventories. GEM emission measures will be compared with respiration chamber measures, the hardware modified for remote use and the design adapted for sheep.

Genetic technologies to reduce methane emissions from Australian beef cattle—NSW Department of Primary Industries — Graham Denney.

Funding of $3,000,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to deliver genetic technologies for breeding cattle with a low methane trait. It will provide new knowledge on genetic variation in methane production and genetic associations with other production traits and will record methane production by animals from the major Australian breeds. It will also cost methane emissions into the breeding values and profit indices used to describe the genetic merit of cattle in the national genetic evaluation system BREEDPLAN.

Understanding methane reducing tannins in enteric fermentation using grape marc as a model tannin source—The Australian Wine Institute — Karl Forsyth.

Funding of $500,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to reduce methane emissions by identifying and characterising the active ingredients in grape marc responsible for reducing ruminant emissions. Tannins in the grape marc are believed to be the active ingredient. The project will quantify, through understanding tannin chemistry and mechanisms, the potential of using grape marc and other tannin rich food sources as a supplement for reducing ruminant emissions. This project will be incorporated into the Victorian Department of Primary Industries project “Enteric methane mitigation strategies through manipulation of feeding systems for ruminant production in southern Australia”.

Development of algae based functional foods for reducing enteric methane emissions from cattle—CSIRO — Nigel Tomkins.

Funding of $500,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project is focusing on proof of concept for the development of algae based functional foods for reducing enteric methane emissions from cattle. It will evaluate a range of algae for antimethanogenic activity and identify lines of algae which may be trialled in future research.

Supplementation with tea saponins and statins to reduce methane emissions from ruminants—CSIRO — Chris McSweeney.

Funding of $250,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to research the suitability of feed additives (tea saponins and statins) to reduce methane emissions from ruminants. Problems that may be associated with some methane reducing additives that prevent their use includes toxicity to microbes and animals, short-lived effects due to microbial adaptation, expense and failure to meet consumer acceptance. The project will undertake animal studies with varying levels of supplementation to intensively fed ruminants with the tea saponin extract and the yeast Monascus ruber.

Practical and sustainable considerations for the mitigation of methane emissions in the northern Australian beef herd using nitrate supplements—Ridley AgriProducts Pty Ltd — Louise Edwards.

Funding of $200,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

The project will determine if nitrate salts in supplement blocks can safely replace urea when feeding low quality forages and if the nitrate blocks will effectively reduce methane emissions of cattle consuming forages typical of northern Australia. Research will occur in methane chambers, individual pens and in the paddock, where supplement blocks are self-fed. In both studies cattle will consume low quality tropical forages, typical of those used in conjunction with urea supplement blocks. This project will be funded as part of a collaboration with the University of New England project "Strategic science to develop dietary nitrate and defaunation as mitigation methodologies for grazing ruminants".

Strategic science to develop dietary nitrate and defaunation as mitigation methodologies for grazing ruminants—University of New England — Belinda Snell.

Funding of $400,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project seeks to develop the science underpinning nitrate supplementation of livestock to ensure these become safe, sure and commercially attractive methane mitigation technologies by June 2015. Intensive study of the modes of action of these processes in the rumen will be undertaken to optimise their efficacy and safety for ruminants on pasture. This project is funded as part of a collaboration project with the project "Practical and sustainable considerations for the mitigation of methane emissions in the northern Australian beef herd using nitrate supplements".

Enteric methane mitigation strategies through manipulation of feeding systems for ruminant production in southern Australia—Department of Primary Industries, Victoria — Joe Jacobs.

Funding of $1,970,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will quantify the mitigation potential of a range of feeds (not currently used as mainstream feeds by the dairy and sheep industry) and feeding strategies both alone and in combination. The project aims to provide new data for national inventories and to form the basis for development of Carbon Farming Initiative offset methodologies.

Impacts of Leucaena spp. plantations on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in northern Australian cattle production systems—CSIRO — Chris McSweeney.

Funding of $750,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will build on previous work by CSIRO that demonstrates that Leucaena spp. supplementation to cattle may result in decreased methane emissions. This project will investigate the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Leucaena spp. cattle-feeding systems in comparison with native pastures by evaluating yearly livestock productivity, herd methane emissions and the sequestration of carbon in the soil. The project will also assess the microbial changes in the rumen that reduce methane to inform research that aims to manipulate the rumen through improved digestive efficiency.

Best choice shrub and inter-row species for reducing emissions and emissions intensity—The University of Western Australia — Philip Vercoe.

Funding of $500,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will quantify the effects of grazing systems based on shrub and pasture inter-row species that exhibit low methanogenic potential on livestock production and methane emissions in the field. It will use the data to model the whole-farm profitability.

The mechanism of antimethanogenic effects of bioactive plants and products on methane production in the rumen—The University of Western Australia — Philip Vercoe.

Funding of $250,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to deliver information for reducing methane in the rumen. It will determine the compounds and mechanisms that reduce methane production by testing plants and plant products in pure and batch cultures and in an artificial rumen to examine their effects at both the microbial ecology and cellular levels.

Efficient Livestock and Low Emissions (ELLE) from southern grazing systems—The University of Western Australia—Philip Vercoe.

Funding of $1,500,000 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project will quantify the genetic diversity in methane reducing and productivity properties of temperate pasture species. Some pasture species have the potential for greater adoption because they reduce methane emissions directly and/or emissions intensity through improved efficiency of livestock production. Using both field and laboratory experimentation the project will generate data required to develop a new Carbon Farming Initiative methodology based on the choice of temperate pasture species to reduce methane and emissions intensity.

Culture-independent metagenomic approaches for understanding the functional metabolic potential of methanogen communities in ruminant livestock—CSIRO—Mark Morrison.

Funding of $507,494 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to use culture-independent approaches developed by CSIRO scientists to characterise the metabolic capabilities of rumen methanogens in livestock. The outcome of this project will be new information that helps define critical control points to reduce livestock methane emissions.

Comparative analyses of rumen microbiomes to mitigate ruminant methane and improve feed utilisation—CSIRO—Mark Morrison.

Funding of $508,878 ex GST (funded under round one from June 2012 to June 2015)

This project aims to increase the understanding of the greater rumen microbial populations in livestock using the datasets produced in Australia and abroad. The project will generate the knowledge required to develop low methane animals, either by animal selection and/or by increasing the metabolic capacity of the microbial community.

Host control of methane emissions from sheep—University of Western Australia.

Funding of $1,428,732 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is studying the interaction between animal hosts and rumen microbial populations to provide insights into the fundamental biology of rumen function and methane emissions in sheep. It will underpin the discovery of new tools for breeding low methane emitting sheep.

Genetics to reduce methane emissions from Australian sheep—The University of New England.

Funding of $810,314 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is developing a robust standard operating procedure for measuring methane emissions from sheep. Outcomes will enable industry breeding values for methane emissions to be developed and will provide a pathway to participation in the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Nitrate and sulphate rich shrubs to reduce methane and increase productivity—CSIRO.

Funding of $1,087,058 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is investigating nitrate and sulphate rich shrubs to develop practical, plant-based technologies and new grazing systems to help reduce methane emissions from livestock systems. Findings could increase agricultural productivity and sustainability without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The trade-off between feed efficiency, methane and reproduction in sheep—Murdoch University.

Funding of $662,633 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is investigating the trade-off between feed efficiency, methane and reproduction in sheep. A whole-farm analysis will be used to understand the profitability trade-off between animal selection for increased feed efficiency versus reduced methane production.

Innovative livestock systems to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions—University of Western Australia.

Funding of $1,248,634 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is quantifying productivity of legume pastures with lower potential for methane production in the rumen. Modelling will determine impacts of a range of sheep and pasture management strategies on whole farm profit, risk and methane emissions for different environments and climate change scenarios.

Novel strategies to breed dairy cattle for adaptation and reduced methane emissions—Dairy Futures Limited.

Funding of $1,950,000 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is developing novel strategies for the dairy industry to adapt to a changing climate and reduce methane emissions. Outcomes will allow dairy farmers to select breeding animals with reduced methane emissions (per litre of milk produced) and improved heat tolerance.

Maximising energy-yielding rumen pathways in response to methane inhibition—CSIRO.

Funding of $430,882 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This project is investigating ways of maximising rumen digestion efficiency in response to methane inhibition. Findings will identify dietary supplements and/or microbial treatments that can reduce methane production (while increasing productivity) and outcomes will establish a safe target for methane reduction using commercial diets.

International coordination of the ruminant pangenome project—University of Western Australia.

Funding of $333,256 ex GST (funded under round two from July 2013 to June 2016)

This international collaboration brings together scientific expertise to coordinate livestock systems research focused on reduction and/or abatement of greenhouse gas emissions. Outcomes of coordination will instil confidence in research findings about genetic control of livestock methane emissions and will inform policy development.