October 28, 2022


New project uses slow-release biopolymer technology to reduce cattle methane emissions



The University of Queensland Australia and Australia's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) are working together for a project to develop slow-release biopolymer technology to reduce methane emissions from cattle, the University of Queensland Australia News reported.


The collaboration is funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the MLA Donor Company Limited to assist producers to hit the CN30 target and make the meat sector carbon neutral by 2030.


The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Professor Mary Fletcher, who is leading the research, said the objective was to create biopolymer devices that could be inserted into cattle's stomachs to deliver a continuous, low dose of bioactive.


Professor Fletcher said in these expansive pastures, where daily dosing is inherently impractical, they want the technology to fit in with the normal management strategies of northern cattle producers.

The researchers are hoping the producers can incorporate it into their regular six-monthly or annual programme so that when they bring the animals in for the routine weighing and assessment treatments, this simply becomes a part of the routine cycle.


Mark Furner, Minister for Rural Communities and Agricultural Industry Development, said that biotechnology might completely alter the beef cattle industry.


Supplements are typically delivered through licks in extensive grazing systems, with little to no control over individual animal intake, according to Furner.


Furner said the beef cattle industry would benefit greatly from the ability to ensure each animal receives a sustained dose of a methane-reducing active agent over an extended timeframe, helping it achieve its goal to reduce methane emissions - particularly in cattle grazing extensive pastures.


The slow-release biopolymer technology, created by a team under the direction of Professor Bronwyn Laycock at UQ's School of Chemical Engineering, is the foundation of the project.


An insert for the rumen, which is a cylinder-shaped object the length of a human hand, is made from the biopolymer that contains the bioactive.


The rumen insert will be ingested by the cattle, who will then hold it in their stomachs where it will eventually be broken down by bacteria, releasing bioactive and leaving no trace.


-      The University of Queensland Australia News

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