Research provides methane reducing solution for extensive grazing systems

CQUniversity livestock researchers have found methane-reducing compounds added to water supply can reduce emissions in beef cattle by more than 15%.

The results were achieved using a product called Agolin Ruminant L in a pen trial as part of a research project funded by the Queensland Government through the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships Program.

Lead researcher, Dr Diogo Costa said the findings were significant in that they provided another opportunity for northern Australia’s beef producers to be part of the climate solution.

“The results also showed no significant impact on productivity and demonstrated the feasibility of water medication without disrupting the animal’s natural behaviour,” he said.

In the first stage of the research project, a number of compounds were tested in the laboratory and found to be soluble and stable in water. These were then ranked based on gas production and effects on dry matter digestibility.

“In the second stage, Agolin Ruminant L, a blend of essential oils, was tested in vivo and saw a reduction of 15% in methane emissions in comparison to animals not receiving the additive,” Dr Costa said.

Dr Costa said by reducing methane from livestock through water-based supplementation, northern Australia’s beef producers on extensive grazing systems can be part of the climate solution.

“A range of feed additives and supplements have been proven to suppress methane emissions in livestock, but the majority are suitable only for intensive production systems like feedlotting and dairy systems, where controlled delivery via feed is possible,” Dr Costa said.

“In northern Australia, most beef production systems are extensive grazing operations over extremely large areas, so producers face a major challenge in delivering supplements to their cattle.

“However, all livestock require a source of drinking water and in extensive grazing systems this is increasingly delivered through infrastructure such as bores, tanks and troughs,” he said.

CQU industry partner, DIT Ag Tech has commercialised a remotely managed direct water injection technology (DWIT) that is currently used to deliver urea and phosphorus to cattle in extensive grazing systems.

Following the successful pen trials, the Water-Based Methane Mitigation project has now progressed to the final stages where 44 composite bulls are being monitored by CQU and provided with Agolin Ruminant L using a DIT uDOSE system in an extensive grazing trial at AgForce Queensland’s Belmont Station, north of Rockhampton.

A further 120 steers from four genetic groups are also being monitored at Willburra Downs Station at Richmond, Queensland.

The results from the final stages of the project are expected to be delivered mid-year.

The Water-Based Methane Mitigation Project is funded by the Queensland Government through the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships Program and Meat & Livestock Australia with industry partner support from DIT AgTech and in collaboration with Feedworks.

From left to right: CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp, CQUniversity researcher Dr Diogo Costa and Queensland Minister for Science and Innovation Leanne Linard.

For technical enquiries please contact Diogo Costa and for communication related enquiries Megan Hendry.