27 Oct 2015

Push to reduce rural greenhouse gases

4:04 pm on 27 October 2015

Effective methods of inhibiting methane and nitrus oxide pollution from farm animals are at least five to seven years away, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium says.

About half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and the Ministry for the Environment has recommended farmers participate fully in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Currently farmers are only required to measure their gas emissions and do not have to trade carbon credits to offset the pollution, with Federated Farmers arguing its members should not have to pay for something they can not do anything about.

Consortium manager Mark Aspin said more time was needed to develop methods of reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

"We've got studies under way looking at inhibitors which are fed to animals, as well as a methane vaccine. These won't be delivered for at least five to seven years," he said.

"So they're a long way away and there is a lot of work to be done before they would be a realistic option for our ruminant farmers."

Mr Aspin said inhibiting methods would need to reduce an animal's emissions by 20 percent to be useful to farmers.

"There's been a big investment since 2002 by the rural sector in partnership with the government to develop ways to reduce methane and nitrous oxide," he said.

"We're making progress but we still don't have cost effective methods to hand. It's a complex biological challenge we've set ourselves but we want to make sure we get it right. They've got to be affordable methods or nobody will use them."

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