Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:55

‘Follow FAO in methane battle’

Written by  Staff Reporters
Nathan Balasingham. Nathan Balasingham.

An Auckland company believes reducing enteric methane through productivity gains is the way to tackle green house gas emissions.

In its submission on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, Pukekohe-based Zest Biotech is calling for the Government to follow the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s lead on the issue.

Zest Biotech founder Nathan Balasingham says the biogenic methane reduction plan in the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill could be difficult to manage, but he sees an easier option. 

“Livestock do not emit methane at a constant rate or intensity,” Balasingham said. “The gas comes out both ends and at a variable rate.”

He says lab and chamber based measurement techniques have “serious limitations”.

“Therefore, biogenic methane per se cannot be accurately measured. If we can’t measure it, it is difficult to manage it.”

The model to measure, report and manage emissions intensity has been developed by the FAO, called Gleam. It is compliant with IPCC Tier 2 methodology and ISO standards 14040 and 14044 (ISO, 2006).

Balasingham says this strategy also ensures the other global challenges - poverty alleviation and food security - are also addressed.

“Agricultural emissions should be viewed as valuable resources that are currently being wasted. Methane is energy lost and urea is protein lost (leading to nitrous oxide emissions).

“If we can improve the efficiency of ruminant animals, we will produce more milk and meat and less waste (emissions). We have the technology to reduce emissions intensity and increase ruminant efficiency.”

Balasingham says this means New Zealand could increase milk and meat productivity and achieve a gross reduction in emissions. It could make economic gains and comply with international standards, meeting market demands for ‘low carbon’ produce and meeting our global food security obligations.

Balasingham questions the Government’s rationale behind providing more financial support to Overseer. Instead of funding Overseer, the Government should back FAO’s Gleam, he says.

“We recommend the Government uses Gleam and support the development and implementation of mitigation tools and strategies that will provide real steps toward achieving the Climate Bill targets.

“If we implement the FAO recommended options, our farmers will be economically smart and climate smart farming champions. For every tonne of methane a farmer reduces, 86 tonnes of CO2 is offset. For every tonne of nitrous oxide they reduce, 298 tonnes of CO2 is offset.”

Existing technology

Nathan Balasingham wants the Government to look at existing technology to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.

He says Biozest, developed by his company, increases pasture resilience and productivity. When livestock graze the treated pasture, more pasture is converted to milk and meat and less is wasted as methane and urea: more profit, less gas and urea. 

Biozest helps farmers to reduce greenhouse gases and their environmental footprint through productivity gains, in line with the FAO’s recommendations, he says.

He says Biozest can double pasture productivity, as well established in trials.

More like this

Council tasked with making unworkable work

Following a meeting between farmer representatives and environment and ag ministers, Environment Southland will be setting up a local advisory group for freshwater rules.

Farmers try to rectify mistakes

After hearing about problems with the Government’s new freshwater regulations, Tony Cleland organised a meeting between farmer representatives and the Ministers for the Environment and Agriculture.

Well meaning rules do not mean well

OPINION: Investing in environmental improvement makes a lot more sense than paying for bureaucratic processes that are perceived to add no value.

Know your farm’s green footprint

It's important to know your financials and KPIs but it is just as important to know your environmental footprint and what is driving it, says dairy farmer Jolene Germann.




Global movers and shakers

Dairy companies around the world are facing a dilemma – whether to expand or divest assets, says Rabobank’s Mary Ledman.

Live cattle exports in limbo

The fate of 28,000 cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs…

Machinery & Products

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

Simmm twin water blasters

Italian made Simmm Power Cleaner 100/11 and Power Gun 100/11 single-phase (230 volt) electric water blasters are proving popular in…

OPD argument raging on

A stoush is brewing with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) heavily criticising Farmsafe Australia’s recent Safer Farm Report.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Cows and earthquakes

OPINION: It has long been suggested that animals have senses that humans don’t, and often behave differently than usual shortly…

Battle is on

OPINION: One of Australia’s biggest dairy businesses is back on the market after the Federal Government knocked back a bid…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter