Research into feed supplements to reduce methane emitted by cows

Coveney says Irish researchers must find new ways of addressing climate change

Researchers in New Zealand are working on a food supplement that could dramatically reduce methane emissions from animals.

Researchers in New Zealand are working on a food supplement that could dramatically reduce methane emissions from animals.

 

Researchers are working on feed supplements that could reduce methane emitted by cows through belching and flatulence, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.

It is estimated agriculture is responsible for 14 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, and methane accounts for a large portion of that. Cows emit the gas during the digestive process.

Mr Coveney said he met his New Zealand counterpart who told him his country’s researchers were focusing on this work because of concerns about climate change. “They are interested in sharing some of the projects that they have around research. They talk about a food supplement that could dramatically reduce methane emissions from animals. Now that is the kind of potential game-changer in terms of the climate change consequences of our expansion that we need to be very plugged into.”

Mr Coveney was speaking at the launch of the Sustainable, Healthy Agri-food Research Plan, which was led by the Department of Agriculture. He said it set out a series of research priorities that would act as a blueprint to guide the funding decisions of Government departments and State agencies in the coming years. It contains 179 research and investment ideas, covering areas such as human nutrition, food processing and food safety.

He said climate change was “a massive challenge” for our agrifood sector and researchers must find ways to produce more but in a sustainable way.