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Mooving On Methane - Global And National Methane-reducing Tech To Be Showcased At Inaugural Event

Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, the regional development agency, is hosting an industry-first event to discuss the science, research, and emerging technologies that could support Aotearoa New Zealand’s efforts to reduce methane emissions on dairy farms.

As a leading dairying region, Taranaki has a vested interest in the way the world views New Zealand’s dairy farming, the products it produces and, the impact it has, or could have, on our competitive advantage, exports, value-add, tech savviness, the New Zealand story, and the returns to our entrepreneurs, enterprises and farming communities.

Global customers are increasingly committing to more ambitious environmental standards which means that, in turn, our farming practices and the products we produce are coming under more scrutiny.

In response to these demands, Fonterra, for example, announced last year that the co-operative is targeting a 30% intensity reduction in on-farm emissions by 2030-. Fonterra cited the need to respond to "growing sustainability ambitions from our customers and financial institutions, along with increasing market access, legal and reporting obligations."

Agriculture accounts for 53.2% of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), with methane accounting for 43.1% of that. Methane emissions from dairy farming alone account for 22.4%--.

"There is huge opportunity for the country to demonstrate global leadership in the adoption and development of methane-reducing innovations," says Anne Probert, Director of Strategic and Sector Partnerships at Venture Taranaki.

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"By doing so it provides an opportunity for not only improving our GHG emission profile but distinguishing ourselves in the marketplace. It makes sense that we should support and ensure that our farmers remain the best in the world and at the forefront of competitiveness, production, and technology."

The inaugural event will showcase the latest investments and technological developments in methane reduction and their timeline to market.

"It also presents an opportunity for hard questions to be explored," explains Probert.

Questions such as is there a silver bullet solution? What are the most realistic, near-term solutions? What does the pathway of near, medium and long term (by 2050) roadmap look like? What are the barriers to technology realisation, commercial viability and availability? What could accelerate solutions? And, what are the risks if Aotearoa New Zealand gets left behind or doesn’t grasp the opportunity?

"We have a proactive farming community, and a region which is very future-focused", continues Probert. "The event is an opportunity to get key players in the same room, have a fast-paced solution-focused discussion, and catalyse the pathway forward."

Taranaki, as a powerhouse not only in dairy farming but in dairy food processing (processing approximately 20% of Fonterra’s dairy production in New Zealand), is well-placed to spearhead the discussion.

The region is already home to a unique project that aims to create New Zealand’s first net zero carbon emissions dairy farm in Whareroa, near Hāwera in South Taranaki. The project is a partnership between Nestle, Fonterra and Dairy Trust Taranaki, and will contribute to Nestle’s goal to "achieve net zero emissions by 2050, including reducing our emissions by 20% by 2025 and 50% by 2030"---. Various solutions are being tested and trailed until 2027, with all aspects of farm operations being examined.

A visit to the pilot farm is on offer as an additional extra for event attendees.

The ‘Mooving on Methane’ event will explore a range of solutions and technologies, with speakers covering innovations like seaweed-based cattle feed, breeding programmes, vaccine research and probiotics. New Zealand is leading the way in some of these research areas, with AgriZeroNZ (a world-first public-private partnership owned by the New Zealand government and major agribusiness companies) a key driver in the sector, as well as the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZARGC).

The event is timely, coinciding with the release of the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice, within which methane plays a key part, and the intent of the Government to have the country’s domestic methane targets reviewed. New Zealand also recently announced contributions to the MethaneSAT space mission, where a state-of-the-art satellite, designed to detect global methane emissions, will be researched and tested.

‘Mooving on Methane’ is aimed at farmers, rural advisers, dairy companies, agencies, private companies, entrepreneurs and technology specialists, Government, Iwi, and community. The event will be held at the Devon Hotel, New Plymouth, on Tuesday, May 28.

Tickets can be purchased here.

QUICK FACTS

How do cows create methane?

Methane, which is mostly emitted when cows burp, is produced in the rumen of the cows by microbes. These microbes are naturally present in all ruminant animals.

The average dairy cow produces about 98kg of methane annually, with 95 per cent coming from digestion. New Zealand studies have shown that about 21-22 grams of methane are produced per kg of dry matter eaten. [Source Dairy NZ]

How does methane impact our GHG emissions?

Methane has an intense warming effect and is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. However, unlike carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide which have a lifespan of hundreds of years, methane has a relatively short lifespan of twelve years. Reducing the amount of methane cows emit presents an opportunity to slow the effects of climate change, while also helping the dairy and beef sectors meet their sustainability goals. [Source Dairy NZ]

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