Carbon farming: managing pastures to reduce methane emissions from cattle

Page last updated: Wednesday, 4 November 2020 - 8:50am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Pastures that reduce methane emissions can be categorised into high quality grasses and legumes, and plants containing secondary metabolites such as tannins.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development provides this information to support land manager decisions about investing in carbon farming.

Benefits of managing pastures to reduce methane emissions from cattle

Carbon benefits for this particular activity do not exist: using high quality pastures and legumes, and plants containing tannins, would probably not qualify as additional. However, there are eligible emissions reduction activities under the Emission Reduction Fund for soil carbon sequestration, and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from beef and dairy cattle using feed supplements.

Co-benefits:

  • High quality pasture increases animal production per kilogram of dry matter intake.
  • Tannins can protect feed proteins from microbial breakdown in the rumen resulting in reduced nitrogen excretion and increased amount of protein available for uptake by the animal.

Opportunities:

  • There is potential to use palatable shrubs and pasture species that decrease methane production.
  • Methane production per head can be lowered by more than 20% in some controlled grazing systems.
  • The stems and root systems of woody perennial shrubs are a potential source of carbon credits.

Risks of managing pastures to reduce methane emissions from cattle

  • There are no approved methodologies for this activity.
  • There are no accurate techniques for measuring feed intake and methane emissions from livestock in commercial grazing.
  • There is an unpredictable variation in methane emissions between animals and across different environments.
  • Pasture species that reduce methane production are yet to be commercialised.

Contact information

Mandy Curnow
+61 (0)8 9892 8422
Tom Edwards
+61 (0)8 9083 1151