Centre to tackle agricultural greenhouse gas challenge
The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
Ensuring agriculture continues to create wealth for New Zealand in a carbon constrained world is the mission of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
Opened in March, the Centre is hosted by AgResearch at its Grasslands campus in Palmerston North, and the Centre’s Director is AgResearch scientist Dr Harry Clark.
The Centre is a partnership between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Massey University, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and Scion.
Agriculture produces almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gasemissions but it also generates around 44 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings, making it a critical contributor to our economy. So the Centre’s challenge is to find ways for New Zealand to meet its international greenhouse gas (GHG) emission obligations without reducing agricultural output.
Backed by government funding of $5 million a year over the next 10 years, the Centre aims to become a focal point for New Zealand activities in agricultural GHG mitigation and carbon sink solutions, and a hub for collaborations with leading institutes and organisations around the world.
Research will concentrate on reducing methane from ruminant animals and waste systems, reducing nitrous oxide from ruminant animals and nitrogen fertiliser, and enhancing carbon sinks in agricultural soils. The Centre’s researchers will look at how inputs and processes affect these emissions, and whether it’s possible to intervene with the outputs after a process has occurred to reduce emissions or increase carbon sinks.
It’s anticipated the Centre will be the first port of call when the government seeks technical advice and support, and the place the public turns to for scientific authority on these issues. Dr Clark says the Centre brings together key New Zealand scientists to stimulate new ideas and thinking on one of the biggest challenges of our time.
“Our research will underpin the development of novel, credible and cost-effective production systems that provide farmers with practical options for reducing emissions. We aim to develop technologies that clearly demonstrate that farm businesses can be both lower emitting and profitable,” he says.
Through undertaking worldleading research, the Centre will become the face of New Zealand’s commitment to finding a solution to the agricultural GHG problem, and play a key role in New Zealand’s science input into the Global Research Alliance (GRA), announced in Copenhagen last year.
“Bringing together the wealth of scientific expertise in our partners, we are in a strong position to enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a country that produces quality pastoral food and fibre products with high environmental credibility and a low carbon footprint”.
- Dr Clark.