The greenhouse gas (GHG) methane accounts for 66% of the agriculture sector carbon emissions. The majority of agriculture methane emissions arise from the natural process of enteric fermentation in ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats). An increasing number of methane reducing feed products are becoming commercially available.
Surplus crude protein in livestock diets is excreted as nitrogenous compounds in urine and faeces. Urine and faeces combined in animal manures and slurries from housed environments give rise to emissions of ammonia and nitrous oxide, a GHG. Research indicates that scope exists to reduce crude protein levels in livestock concentrate diets which will lead to reduced ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions.
Excessive levels of phosphorus are the main cause of eutrophication in watercourses in Northern Ireland. Surplus phosphorus in livestock diets is excreted in urine and faeces. When the resulting slurry and manure from the housed environment is spread on agricultural land, a proportion of slurry and manure is subject to surface runoff to watercourses in wet weather conditions. Local research indicates that scope exists to reduce phosphorus levels in livestock concentrate diets which will lead to reduced phosphorus excretion and improved water quality.
The Livestock Dietary Emission Challenge Fund will provide information on the future use of methane reducing feed additives and the impact of dietary changes on ammonia and phosphorous losses.
What does this mean for me?
It is intended that testing of concentrate diets to reduce emissions on commercial farms will commence during the autumn / winter of 2023.
What do I need to do now?
Nothing at this point. Further information on the LDECF and how to make an application will be published on this webpage once the call for applications launches.