The anti-methanogenic shrubs project investigated a range of forage plants for their potential to reduce methane emissions from livestock. The project also investigated the mechanisms and compounds responsible for the anti-methanogenic effects.
Researchers built a database of information about the beneficial bioactive properties of 130 species of Australian native perennial plants adapted to the low-medium rainfall zones of Australia. This research was extended by screening commonly used fodder plants, plant extracts and selected feed additives and grazing plants that are, or could be, used in wider livestock production zones, particularly in northern Australia.
A range of tropical legumes (e.g. Leucaena leucocephala, Desmanthus virgatus), novel forages (e.g. turnip and chicory), plant extracts (e.g. Eremophila glabra, Santalum spicatum) and feed additives (e.g. grape marc or marine products – DHA and Nannochloropsis oculata), were found to have the potential to reduce methane in the rumen. Anti-methanogenic activity was found to vary depending on the location where the plant was grown, and between different plant accessions within a species. Season, phenology and grazing appeared to have less influence on the variability.
The research revealed that plants affect methane production via a range of antimicrobial activities, indicating that there are different compounds and different mechanisms involved in the inhibition. This means that a combination of plants integrated into a more diverse grazing system could be effective against a range of different methanogens.
Eremophila glabra (pictured) was one of the most potent anti-methanogenic plants. In future, it may be possible to use E. glabra to develop strategies for long-term methane reduction in grazing animals.
Anti-methanogenic Project Leader Dr Phil Vercoe
This website contains information about the CRC’s research into perennial plant based farming systems.
This site will remain live until 30 June 2017 but is no longer being updated or reviewed.
Further information about CRC research projects can be obtained by following links from relevant project pages or by viewing the research transfer page.
The CRC was funded for seven years (2007-2014) under the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre program.