Royal DSM has announced on August 8 a well-advanced collaborative innovation programme between New Zealand company Argenta, University of Otago and AgResearch for the development of speciality forms of the methane inhibitor 3-NOP specific for the New Zealand market.

"New Zealand dairy cow feeding systems mean that there is often some time between when the cows can consume a methane inhibitor and the time they are back on pasture. Since 2017, we have been working in New Zealand with urgency on forms which will allow the inhibitor to remain active in the rumen for a prolonged period of time," said Mark van Nieuwland, global program head of DSM.

Argenta, Otago University School of Pharmacy, and DSM Nutritional Products are providing numerous prototypes to be evaluated by AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre in Palmerston North. Argenta is a New Zealand-based global animal health company with expertise in slow release technology for ruminants and Otago University is a world leader in designing speciality formulations.

Argenta has a long history of inventing and manufacturing products for animal health and specialises in controlled release systems that work in the rumen of sheep and cows, a skill highly relevant to this application. Dr. Doug Cleverly, co-founder of Argenta, commented: "...the importance of selecting the right partners to resolve technical challenges at the invention step is critical, but equally important is being able to handle commercial supply to New Zealand farms."

Dr. Greg Walker of Otago University added: "Otago University has expertise in the targeted slow release of actives in the human health area and is very happy to collaborate with industry on this challenge, to provide a formulation of 3-NOP which can enable farmers to reduce methane emissions significantly."

The collaboration has had promising results from a first round of application trials late in 2018.

"In the first round of prototype testing, a number of attractive options were found where 3-NOP reduced methane by over 30% for up to six hours after feeding the inhibitor. This could overcome the delay between the consumption of the inhibitor on a feed pad or in-a shed and subsequent access to pasture in paddocks where the majority of feed intake and therefore methane production occurs," Dr. Peter Janssen of AgResearch said.

The partnership is now working through options around how the inhibitor could be used in dairy systems to maximise the methane reduction over a full day. Mark van Nieuwland from DSM said that this second phase of product development is refining the options toward a commercial formulation likely to become available next year, once regulatory requirements are satisfied.

The feed additive 3-NOP has recently been recognised in a report by the World Resources Institute as one of the ten global breakthrough technologies that can help feed the world without destroying it.

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