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Carbon Emissions: Cattle

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department is supporting on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government, in partnership with the devolved Administrations, have invested £12.6 million over a four and half year period to improve the Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Inventory R and D Platform. Through a series of projects, including improving the accuracy of calculating greenhouse gas emissions produced from cattle, this research will strengthen our understanding of emissions produced on farm and better capture the positive actions that farmers are currently taking.

DEFRA has recently supported research at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and Reading University on nutritional interventions to reduce methane emissions from cattle (Projects LS3656 and AC0209). This showed that feeding:

high-sugar grass could reduce an animal's methane emissions by 20%; crushed rapeseed could reduce methane production per dairy cow by 15% and methane per litre of milk by 20%.

The research also suggests farmers can reduce GHGs by increasing milk yield, avoiding overfeeding animals with food high in nitrogen, feeding animals once a day and increasing dietary starch and oil.

In partnership with industry, DEFRA is funding research (Projects LK686 and LK687) on genetic improvement of perennial ryegrass and red/white clover to increase nitrogen-use efficiency in the rumen and reduce N-losses from pastures and silo.

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