research back to front

Talk agriculture, greenhouse gases and carbon price, and Richard Eckard immediately destroys one myth about methane emissions from cattle.

“The methane … comes out the front, not the back. We love the acronyms about what comes out the back, but probably less than 2%-5% comes from there. It’s really a burp and breathe out tax,” says Dr Eckard, a lead researcher on greenhouse and climate change in Victorian agriculture.

“Our work is focussing on dietary supplements – feeding the cattle to produce more milk profitably and reduce methane at the same time,” he said.

The research has concentrated on naturally occurring plants that have higher oils.

“A range of oils will work – mineral, vegetable oils, it doesn’t seem to matter what they are – they all have an effect on methane,” Dr Eckard said.

He said their experiments, and a review of similar studies around the world, had shown that with every 1% of oil in the diet, there was a 6% reduction in methane.

The Age (Australia), 18 Aug 2008 – screen copy held by this website