Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Adoptability and effectiveness of livestock emission reduction techniques in Australia’s temperate high-rainfall zone

Adrian R. James A C and Matthew T. Harrison B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A NRM North, 63–65 Cameron St Launceston, Tas. 7250, Australia.

B Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, Tas. 7320, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: ajames@nrmnorth.org.au; james_adrian@hotmail.com

Animal Production Science 56(3) 393-401 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15578
Submitted: 14 September 2015  Accepted: 27 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

Significant research has been conducted on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation techniques for ruminant livestock farming, however putting these techniques into practice on-farm requires consideration of adoptability by livestock producers. We modelled the adoptability of a range of livestock greenhouse gas abatement techniques using data from farm case studies and industry surveys, then compared the effectiveness of several techniques in reducing emissions intensity and net farm emissions. The influence of the Australian Government Emissions Reduction Fund on adoptability was included by modelling techniques with and without the requirements of an Australian Government Emissions Reduction Fund project. Modelled adoption results were compared with data obtained from surveys of livestock farmers in northern Tasmania, Australia. Maximum adoption levels of the greenhouse gas mitigation techniques ranged from 34% to 95% and the time required to reach 90% of the peak adoption levels ranged from 3.9 to 14.9 years. Techniques with the lowest adoption levels included providing supplements to optimise rumen energy : protein ratio and feeding high-lipid diets. Techniques with the highest adoptability involved improved ewe reproductive efficiency, with more fertile flocks having higher adoption rates. Increasing liveweight gain of young stock so animals reached slaughter liveweight 5–7 weeks earlier (early finishing) and joining maiden ewes at 8 months instead of 18 months had the fastest adoption rates. Techniques which increased net emissions and reduced emissions per liveweight sold (emissions intensity) had higher adoptability due to profit advantages associated with greater meat and wool production, whereas some techniques that reduced both net emissions and emissions intensity had lower adoptability and/or longer delays before peak adoption because of complexity and costs associated with implementation, or lack of extension information. Techniques that included an Australian Government Emissions Reduction Fund project had reduced maximum adoption levels and reduced rate of adoption due to difficulty of implementation and higher cost. Adopting pastures with condensed tannins reduced net emissions, emissions intensity and had high adoption potential, but had a long delay before peak adoption levels were attained, suggesting the technique may be worthy of increased development and extension investment. These results will be of benefit to livestock farmers, policymakers and extension practitioners. Programs designed to mitigate livestock greenhouse gas should consider potential adoption rates by agricultural producers and time of implementation before embarking on new research themes.

Additional keywords: abatement, condensed tannins, ewes, lambs, methane, nitrous oxide, ruminant.


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