[03 April/Farmers Weekly]

Dr Tim Mackle, DairyNZ’s head reports that he welcomes the shift over the past few years in understanding methane’s role as a greenhouse gas and how the dairy sector will make a change. 12 farms nationwide have been selected to model 44 systems at an attempt minimise greenhouse gas. The greatest gains are expected to come from an accumulation of small changes. Owl Farm, owned by St Peter’s School near Cambridge, has shown reducing feed use and stocking rate can gain 14% in profitability, cut nitrogen losses by 14% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13%. Methane is short lived in the atmosphere therefore it does not need to be reduced to zero, unlike carbon dioxide. It has been reported any reductions will help reduce climate change. Long-term there are prospects for lower methane cattle and methane inhibitors on the market within 18 months and perhaps vaccines in five to 10 years.