Greenhouse gas emissions in livestock production systems

Henry, B. & Eckard, R. (2009) Greenhouse gas emissions in livestock production systems. Tropical Grasslands, 43(4), pp. 232-238.

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Agriculture is responsible for a significant proportion of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (perhaps 18% globally), and therefore has the potential to contribute to efforts to reduce emissions as a means of minimising the risk of dangerous climate change. The largest contributions to emissions are attributed to ruminant methane production and nitrous oxide from animal waste and fertilised soils. Further, livestock, including ruminants, are an important component of global and Australian food production and there is a growing demand for animal protein sources. At the same time as governments and the community strengthen objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are growing concerns about global food security. This paper provides an overview of a number of options for reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from ruminant production systems in Australia, while maintaining productivity to contribute to both objectives. Options include strategies for feed modification, animal breeding and herd management, rumen manipulation and animal waste and fertiliser management. Using currently available strategies, some reductions in emissions can be achieved, but practical commercially available techniques for significant reductions in methane emissions, particularly from extensive livestock production systems, will require greater time and resource investment. Decreases in the levels of emissions from these ruminant systems (i.e., the amount of emissions per unit of product such as meat) have already been achieved. However, the technology has not yet been developed for eliminating production of methane from the rumen of cattle and sheep digesting the cellulose and lignin-rich grasses that make up a large part of the diet of animals grazing natural pastures, particularly in arid and semi-arid grazing lands. Nevertheless, the abatement that can be achieved will contribute significantly towards reaching greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and research will achieve further advances.

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ID Code: 75138
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Cited By (since 1996):3
Export Date: 14 August 2014
Correspondence Address: Henry, B.; Meat and Livestock Australia, 23 Kyabra Street, Newstead, QLD 4006, Australia; email:
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Animalia, Bos, Bovidae, Ovis aries, Poaceae
ISSN: 00494763
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000) > ANIMAL PRODUCTION (070200) > Animal Reproduction (070206)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 18 Aug 2014 02:08
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2014 05:17

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