21 Apr 2011

Researchers to study high sugar grasses

2:04 pm on 21 April 2011

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium will look into new findings from the UK that show high sugar grasses can reduce methane emissions from livestock.

The consortium was set up in 2002 with industry funding to find ways of reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from farm animals.

Manager Mark Espin says it has investigated other forage species for their potential impact on methane production, but not high sugar grasses.

He expects the consortium will follow up the results of trials in the UK that show high sugar rye grass can reduce methane emissions from sheep by 20% for every kilogram of weight gain.

He says tests on rye grass, white clover and chicory have not shown any advantage so the consotium is interested in trying to get some samples of high sugar rye grass with similar sugar levels to that in the UK to study.

The company that supplies high sugar grasses in New Zealand, Germinal Seeds, says they've also been shown to increase milk yield and weight gain in livestock, and reduce the nitrogen they excrete.