A new MLA research project seeks to help red meat producers decrease greenhouse gas emissions from livestock by using an additive called biochar in cattle and sheep feed.
Biochar is a charcoal made from biomass, and is understood to have benefits in carbon sequestration, gas absorption and soil enrichment. Biochar is also increasingly being studied for its benefits in animal feeds – including improved digestion and disease immunity, increased growth rates, and, crucially, reduced methane production.
MLA’s research project in this area aims to quantify and validate the effects of biochar on animal emissions, and define the right biochar production processes to enable mass adoption in cattle feeds. The Australian National Livestock Methane Program has identified the inclusion of biochar into livestock diets as a high research priority, which has the potential to make beef production in particular more sustainable. Similar research is also being conducted in Europe, with the use of biochar in animal feed regulated by the EU regulations 68/2013, and 178/2002.
MLA General Manager for Producer Consultation and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said the project was an exciting and important piece of work for the red meat industry’s broader sustainability agenda.
“CSIRO’s biochar research strongly aligns with MLA’s commitment to the CN30 initiative which is Australia’s red meat industry ambition of being carbon neutral by 2030,” he said. “It is important that efforts to achieve carbon neutrality have the dual objective of improving profitability for red meat producers and this research is a great example of this: it has the potential to boost productivity and profitability in red meat production systems while reducing emissions.”
Such investments in farming sustainability and efficiency help Australian farmers provide the European market with not only a high quality product, but one that is responsibly produced. It also supports work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 12 for Responsible Consumption and Production, and 13 for Climate Action.
Article Date: 10th September 2019