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Best choice shrub and inter-row species for reducing methane emissions intensity
Grazing systems based on shrubs and pasture species that are selected for their nutritive value and anti-methanogenic bioactivity offer a practical means to reduce methane emissions and emissions intensity from grazing livestock. Our hypothesis was that the shrub-based system with the most potential to reduce methane emissions and emissions intensity will be one that takes into account the bioactivity and productivity of both the shrub and inter-row components of the plants being grazed. We showed that sheep grazing shrub-based systems without supplementary feeding during autumn gained at least twice the weight of sheep grazing pasture with conventional amounts of supplementary feeding with grain. The sheep grazing shrubs also had a lower methane emissions intensity and produced less methane per unit of energy intake. This result was replicated in a modelling analysis, which also demonstrated that over a 12-month period, sheep that graze shrubs in autumn, have a better body condition which enables them to require less supplementary feeding over the year. The results from our study support the concept of using perennial shrubs in a whole-farm system as a means of improving productivity whilst also improving methane emissions intensity, and also reducing the risk of inadequate feed during autumn.
This page was last updated on 25/07/2017
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