Cows to get carbon credits for not burping

ABC Rural

By Caddie Brain

Photo: Droughtmaster cattle in a paddock in the Northern Territory.

Audio: Cows to get credit for not burping (ABC Rural)

Beef producers may soon be able to claim carbon credits by changing the type of feed supplements used on their herds.

By replacing urea supplements with nitrate salts, the amount of methane burped by cattle can be reduced by up to 20 per cent.

Using a new methodology, producers could then claim credits on their herds’ reduced methane emissions through the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.

RAMP Carbon developed the methodology with Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Agricultural Company.

Director Phil Cohn says it could have a big impact on overall agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in Australia

"The major component of Australia’s agricultural emissions actually comes from livestock as they digest their feed," he said.

"65 per cent of Australia’s agricultural emissions actually come from livestock burping methane.

"It’s actually around 10 per cent of Australia’s national emissions, so it’s a significant challenge.

"In some regions producers already supplement their animal with urea.

"If you supplement with nitrate salt instead, you get the same nutritional benefits to your cattle, but in addition you get this reduction in methane emissions.

"Using the methodology, we can quantify those emission reductions and then translate those into carbon credits which can be sold."

Mr Cohn says the scheme may benefit larger producers initially, due to the higher cost of nitrate salts.

"It is more expensive than urea supplementation," he said.

"So the early adopters of this methodology are likely to be the very large-scale, commercial cattle producers.

"But we’re really really confident that over time the economics will stack up for smaller producers.

"That’s not to say individual farmers can’t get together to aggregate up.

"I think in the livestock sector in particular, that’s what we’re going to have to see for projects to be feasible and deliver a decent return in emission reductions and funding as a result."

The methodology is open for comment until January 11.