My Department is working closely with Teagasc to explore technologies and opportunities that may exist in the effort to reduce methane emissions in the agricultural sector as well as developing metrics to be able to measure the effectiveness of these technologies on reducing methane emissions.
It is clear that methane and other emissions associated with the dairy herd will need to reduce over the decade if agriculture is going to meet its climate objectives. There is significant research work ongoing in relation to methane emissions and dairy, and indeed, it is clear that future research investments will be needed in this area.
One of the most exciting research breakthroughs in recent times is the use of the feed additive 3 Nitro-Oxy-Propanol, (3-NOP) that has been proven to have the ability to reduce enteric methane emissions.
The feed additive 3NOP, which can reduce methane emissions in the rumen of animals by approximately 30% for indoor systems, has recently been approved by the European Food Safety Authority. While the technology has been proven to work in indoor confined systems of livestock production, Teagasc has also commenced work on how the technology can be used in a grass-based system. I will continue to support Teagasc in developing these types of technologies.
New technologies such as anaerobic digestion are specifically referenced in the Climate Action Plan and they also help reduce emissions. My Department supports Teagasc to deliver these important methane-focused projects as well as supporting Teagasc advisers and research staff to deliver these targets.
DNA technology has also led to significant improvement in animal breeding in recent times. My Department is in collaboration with Teagasc and ICBF as we continue to focus on efficiencies in producing high-quality animal protein. Teagasc is in collaboration with DAFM and ICBF to develop a carbon sub index that can be included in the EBI. It is hoped eventually to be able to select directly for lower enteric methane emitting cows using the carbon sub index.
We are currently funding two methane specific research projects including the development and validation of novel technologies to reduce methane emissions from pasture based Irish agricultural systems and investigating Seaweeds and seaweed-ingredients to reduce enteric methane emissions from pasture-based sheep, cattle and dairy cows in collaborations with Teagasc and Irish universities.