Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Carbon Farming opportunities for beef producers

[September 2014]

A new Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology has been developed that will allow cattle producers to claim carbon credits.

The methodology ‘Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in beef cattle through feeding nitrate-containing supplements’ was developed from a project funded by Meat and Livestock Association (MLA) and the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo), and backed by science from the National Livestock Methane Program.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Southern Rangelands) Jane Bradley said the nitrate abatement strategy is applicable to grazing beef cattle.

“Native pastures often lack the required crude protein levels to sustain rumen function, so producers sometimes feed urea, which contains non-protein nitrogen to overcome deficiencies,” Ms Bradley said.

Adding nitrates to stock supplements has been found to reduce enteric (stomach) methane emissions produced during digestion.

Supplements such as calcium nitrate and ammonium nitrate are alternative sources of non-protein nitrogen.

Researchers are working with MLA to identify techniques and technologies so producers can lift productivity and access carbon incentive schemes.

The current price of nitrate salts could initially make supplementation cost effective only for larger grazing enterprises, but potentially all producers could benefit from seeing how a methodology is applied.

A second CFI methodology currently in development, covers early finishing of cattle in northern Australia as a way to reduce lifetime emissions.  It is hoped the early finishing methodology will be available for public comment soon before progressing to the Government’s Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee for evaluation.

Ms Bradley said once a methodology is approved under the CFI, producers can then utilise it to implement a Carbon Farming Initiative project.

“Pastoralists considering entering into a Carbon Farming Initiative Project should approach the question just as they would any other aspect of their business.  What are the costs?  Will it make me a profit?  What are the risks involved with signing up for a carbon abatement project given the requirement for permanence?” Ms Bradley said.

For further information on the Carbon Farming Initiative, go to the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative website.

Read more about the nitrate methodology.