Project code: RCF-02/2010

Duration 2 Years

Leader and Team Dr Alistair Carson, AFBI - Hillsborough

Organisations involved AgriSearch (Lead Industry Partner and Co-Funder), DARD Research Challenge Fund (Co-Funder), AFBI - Hillsborough (Research Partner)

Background and Summary

The research team is comprised of 12 Northern Ireland beef producers in partnership with AFBI scientists.  The project will develop management tools to accurately monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from beef systems at individual farm level and evaluate selected  mitigation strategies within an on-farm project.  

The main components of the research programme are:

Development of a statistically robust on-line benchmarking tool to enable GHG emissions to be accurately determined at individual farm level.  This tool will benchmark the key livestock traits influencing GHG emissions, such as age at first calving and carcass gains drawn down from APHIS, through AFBI’s Bovine Information System (BovIS).  A record of inputs and forage area will be included to enable an overall GHG assessment.  New, and more accurate, emission factors being developed by AFBI will be used in this application.

Determination of GHG emissions across a range of beef systems. Benchmarking will be undertaken by the 12 research producers, consisting of 6 suckler beef and 6 dairy origin beef producers.

Evaluation of selected mitigation strategies.  On the 6 suckler herd research farms an evaluation will be undertaken on the effects of adopting improved rearing regimes for herd replacements on GHG emissions and on financial performance.  On the 6 dairy origin beef systems, nutritional treatments to promote high growth rates on forage-based diets will be investigated.

The computer based programmes developed in this research programme will be made available for the whole industry as management support tools.