There are limited options for reducing direct agricultural emissions, these are discussed below.
There are no off the shelf methods, additives etc to reduce methane from ruminant animals. It has been said that the only silver bullet for methane emission reductions is the silver bullet!
Increasing investment in scientific research may lead to validated methane reduction methods.
Nitrification inhibitors are available to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. These are chemicals which are applied on to pasture with fertiliser. These work in two ways:
- The first is to reduce nitrates leaching in the soil after the application of nitrogen fertiliser.
- The second is to reduce the direct nitrous oxide emission from animal urine patches and break down of fertiliser in the soil.
Nitrification inhibitors are currently available from Ballance and Ravensdown.
Ballance also offer alternative solutions on their website to further reduce the impact of nitrogen on the environment. These include:
- Feed pads
- Wintering barns
- Restricted autumn grazing
- Effective use of effluent nutrients
- Planted wetlands and riparian areas
- Low nitrogen feedstuffs
- Low or no nitrogen fertiliser
- On farm nutrient monitoring
- Carbon Dioxide.
There are a range of options to reduce the relatively small amount of carbon dioxide emissions which occur at the farm level. These include:
- Solar hot water heating
- Solar power generation
- Heat transfer technology, using warmth from milk to heat water
- Fuel efficient farm machinery.
Forestry under the ETS
By establishing a forest under the rules of the ETS, landowners will be able to reduce greenhouse gasses and generate carbon credits (NZUs). These units could be used to directly offset farm emissions (depending on the point of obligation), or sold to offset the additional cost of emissions from farm activities.
For more information on ETS forestry options, please click here.
Pasture and soil improvement
Outside the current rules of the ETS, scientists are investigating farm management techniques which will permanently increase the carbon content in the soil. If these are adopted it will enable grassland farmers in NZ to build up the level and depth of carbon in the soil and become “carbon positive”.