THE first example of a methane-reducing compound suitable for delivery through livestock water medication systems has been launched in Australia.
Livestock technology company Direct Injection Technologies, has developed a supplement that will for the first time allow cattle and sheep producers to deliver methane reducing supplements via drinking water in paddock situations.
As part of Australia’s first carbon abatement project involving the delivery of water-soluble livestock supplements, DIT’s soluble supplement uPro Blue contains the essential oils-based additive Agolin, for delivery to livestock through DIT’s water dosing technology.
The delivery of compounds via the drinking water presented an innovative mechanism to reduce methane emissions from the red meat sector at a scale not possible with existing technologies, DIT AgTech chief executive Mark Peart said.
Water medication is popular in areas of Australia where water access can be controlled, delivering a range of compounds including urea and phosphorus.
“Other methane-reducing products require controlled environments like feedlots and dairy systems, or are delivered in a way that cannot be measured or monitored – excluding the 92 percent of sheep and cattle that graze on open land in Australia,” Mr Peart said.
DIT’s new uPro Blue water medication product incorporates Agolin, a class of feed additive where the active ingredient can modify the rumen to produce less methane but at the same time boost animal performance.
Swiss feed additive manufacturer Agolin developed the compound based on essential oils from coriander, nutmeg and wild carrot. It is already in use i9n dairy applications in Europe.
The Agolin Runinant product was promoted for the first time for feedlot use at the recent BeefEx conference in Brisbane.
8.8pc reduction in methane
A research study titled “A meta-analysis describing the effects of the essential oils blend Agolin Ruminant on performance, rumen fermentation and methane emissions in dairy cows”, looked at the effects of the supplement on the productivity of dairy cows in comparison to non-treated animals.
Twenty three in-vivo studies were identified in which Agolin was supplemented at 1g/d per cow; then a meta-analysis was performed to determine the response on milk yield, rumen fermentation, methane emissions and health. While short term treatment had little effect, long-term treatment decreased methane production per day by 8.8 percent, while increasing milk yield by 3.6pc and feed efficiency by 4.4pc, without further changes in milk composition and feed intake.
“Despite the mode of action being still unclear and the small number of studies considered, these findings show that Agolin represents an encouraging alternative to improve productivity in dairy cows,” the study said.
DIT said with the launch of its uPro Blue product, it was possible for farmers to overcome the logistical challenges and high cost of delivering methane-reducing supplements on a mass scale in all environments. The company suggested a cost of “as little as 15c/head/day.”
DIT expects uPro Blue to become carbon accredited in early 2023, meaning farmers using the supplement may be able to earn additional income from the sale of carbon credits. DIT is working with carbon project developer, South Pole, to have the product accredited.
“This product enables cattle and sheep producers to suppress methane emissions at scale; accurately monitor and measure intake; record data for claiming carbon credits; while improving the health and productivity of the herd,” Mr Peart said.
Central Queensland University is currently trialling other methane reducing supplements using DIT AgTech’s drinking water medication system.
“The beauty of water medication is it can deliver other methane-busting additives, such as asparagopsis, if they are soluble and stable in water, which could significantly increase agriculture’s capacity to reduce emissions,” Mr Peart said.
Coming up: Australian researcher Sarah Meale discusses the methane-inhibiting potential found in studies of a range of compounds including essential oils, garlic, bio-char, probiotics and sugarcane extract, delivered during the TropAg conference.