Meat & Livestock News

Joint Irish-NZ Methane Project Kicks Off


  • DairyNZ collaborates with Irish researchers to study methane emissions from pasture-based dairy systems over four years.
  • The project aims to quantify emissions, understand the impact of various factors on methane production, and explore mitigation technologies suitable for pasture-based systems in New Zealand and Ireland.

DairyNZ has embarked on a significant partnership with Irish agricultural experts to tackle the challenge of methane emissions from dairy cows grazed on pastures.

This collaborative effort, set to span four years, involves a team comprising researchers, students, professors, and database technology specialists from both DairyNZ and Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc), University College Cork, and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation.

The core objective of this international project is to meticulously measure the methane emissions from dairy cows within pasture-based systems. Jane Kay, DairyNZ’s principal scientist, highlighted the project’s goals to assess how different stages of lactation, types of pasture, management practices, and seasonal growth patterns influence base methane emissions.

Additionally, the project seeks to understand how these factors affect the efficacy of emerging methane-reducing technologies.

This initiative is not just about advancing scientific understanding; it’s also about practical application. The research aims to develop scalable solutions that farmers can readily adopt to reduce their environmental footprint without sacrificing profitability. This is particularly relevant as both New Zealand and Ireland strive to meet national and international targets for methane reduction.

One of the promising avenues being explored is early life intervention, where calves are fed natural products designed to lower methane emissions throughout their lives. This approach is seen as both cost-effective and practical, fitting well within New Zealand’s pasture-based dairy farming model.

The research is primarily conducted at Lye Farm, one of DairyNZ’s Waikato research farms, which, along with Scott Farm, provides an ideal setting for pasture, animal, and farm systems trials. These trials ensure that the mitigation technologies developed are not only effective but also practical for widespread adoption across different farming systems.

Involving farmers directly in the research process is a key aspect of this project. Their insights are invaluable in identifying potential opportunities and barriers to the adoption of new technologies and practices. This collaborative approach underscores the project’s commitment to developing solutions that are both environmentally sustainable and economically viable.

As the project progresses, DairyNZ and its Irish partners are optimistic about making significant strides in reducing methane emissions from pasture-based dairy farming. This research not only strengthens the ties between New Zealand and Ireland but also contributes to the global effort to address climate change through innovative agricultural practices.