New global guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock have just been published.
The new international collaborative publication ‘Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock: best practice and emerging options’ is a joint initiative of the Livestock Research Group (LRG) of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) and the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. It was commissioned by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).
The GRA is a voluntary initiative between countries to collaborate in the research, development and extension of technologies and practices that will help grow more food while reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity. The SAI Platform is the global industry initiative helping food and drink companies to achieve sustainable production and source agricultural raw materials.
According to the NZAGRC, the document summarises current global best practices ready for implementation at the farm level as well as emerging options at various stages of research to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of livestock production across a range of farm systems.
“We hope this provides information about existing global opportunities to reduce emissions and to collaborate in the development, trial and dissemination of additional mitigation options,” says NZAGRC’s Dr Harry Clark, who adds that the publication includes intervention options for animal feed and nutrition, genetics and breeding, rumen modification, animal health, manure and grassland management.
The guide highlights positive environmental impacts as well as financial implications of implementing these options. It also underlines the importance of GHG reduction efforts supporting a holistic sustainability approach.
An SAI Platform release notes that the dairy and beef sectors have already made important progress globally on reducing emissions. While a steady growth in demand for all animal products has resulted in a 1.1 percent per year increase of emissions since 2000, the GHG emissions intensity of production has decreased by up to 76 percent (range 38-76 percent) for various livestock products between 1960 to 2000.
“A recent study by the FAO estimates that if all producers in a given system, region and climate achieved the production efficiency of the top 10 or 25 percent of producers, total emissions could be reduced by 18-30 percent if overall production remains the same.”
Members of the SAI Platform Beef Working Group will be actively promoting the implementation of targeted activities to GHG mitigation in the beef supply chain, together with their farmers and customers.
“The practical options provided in this resource allow farmers to make informed decisions about greenhouse gas reduction activities and efficiencies benefiting their farms. It is based on the latest science, demonstrating that proper co-operation between research and industry can be very rewarding”, adds Keith Kenny, head of sustainability and CSR at McDonald’s Europe, and chair of the SAI Platform Beef Working Group.
Harry Clark says the NZAGRC is proud to have been an integral part in the production of the resource for farmers, industry leaders and policy makers.
“Even though farm systems differ significantly around the world, many of the options outlined in the document are applicable to New Zealand farm systems and many are already being practised and contribute to the efficiency of livestock production in our country,” he says.