Having a driven passion of the sustainability of New Zealand’s pastoral sector: I’ve followed my passions into starting a MSc of Agricultural science at Massey University specialising in the mitigation of ruminant methane emissions through animal nutrition. With a background of farming in both pastoral New Zealand and intensive European dairy systems, an inherent interest of the feeding principals of livestock in high performing systems and a determination to always care for our land: I have been fortunate to fall under guidance of AgResearch and Massey University to participate in formative research which will contribute towards New Zealand’s efforts to reduce the future greenhouse gas emissions of the agricultural sector. This research project will be overseen by supervisors Dr. Arjan Jonker & Dr. Ajmal Khan (AgResearch LTD.) and Dr. Nick Sneddon & Prof. Danny Donaghy (Massey University) and will be made possible with funding assistance from the MPI Greenhouse Gas Inventory team.
The primary focus of my MSc research project is to determine how methane emissions from dairy cattle in early to mid-lactation can be influenced through feeding graded levels of concentrate supplements. Foundational studies in this field have demonstrated a relationship between increased dietary components of readily fermentable carbohydrates and decreased enteric methane production (Jonker et al, (2017; 2020) and Della Rosa et al, (2021)). The proposed trial will see methane being measured in groups of early lactation cows receiving no, low, medium or high levels of concentrates/cow/day fed twice daily. Methane measurements of cattle within each treatment group will initially be determined in the paddock by using a ‘GreenFeed’ automated field-based methane emissions monitoring system. After which, data collected from ‘GreenFeed’ units will be validated against measurements conducted with the ‘gold standard’ methane measurement method of placing cattle in respiration chambers. This validation of field-based methane monitoring systems will comprise a secondary aim of the research project. As such, it is hoped that ‘GreenFeed’ field-based technologies may provide a reliable means to effectively and efficiently measure methane in a more natural environment for trialled animals.
Della Rosa, M., Sandoval, E., Reid, P., Pacheco, D., Jonker, A. (2021). Effect of feeding sheep graded levels of forage rape on methane emissions and rumen fermentation. Animal – Science Proceedings, 12(1), 64.
Jonker, A., Green, P., Waghorn, G., van der Weerden, T., Pacheco, D., de Klein, C. (2020). A meta-analysis comparing four measurement methods to determine the relationship between methane emissions and dry-matter intake in New Zealand dairy cattle. Animal Production Science 60, 96-101.
Jonker, A., Molano, G., Koolaard, J., Muetzel, S. (2017). Methane emissions from lactating and non-lactating dairy cows and growing cattle fed fresh pasture. Animal Production Science 57, 643-648