The New Zealand Government announced today it will commit $7.8 million to Ruminant BioTech’s CALM (Cut Agricultural Livestock Methane) programme, to develop a sustained release methane inhibitor technology for grass-fed animals.
Ruminant BioTech investors will match the Crown’s cash injection. The company aims to develop a commercially viable bolus by 2025 that delivers at least a 70 percent reduction in ruminant animals’ methane emissions over six months.
Ruminant BioTech Chief Executive George Reeves said the bolus has the potential to provide every dairy, sheep, and beef farmer in New Zealand with an effective, easy, “set and forget” methane reduction solution that is both highly effective and practical for grass-fed animal farming operations.
“Our slow-release bolus delivers a methane inhibitor at the site of methane production, in the rumen. Preliminary trials achieved 90% methane emissions reduction over 80 days. While these initial results were extremely positive, our goal is to develop a bolus that achieves 70% methane mitigation over six months,” explains Reeves.
Reeves says the methane inhibitor bolus is unique and has the potential to deliver significant climate change impacts.
“New Zealand has a unique greenhouse gas emissions profile. Almost 50% of our total GHG comes from agriculture and three quarters of this comes from methane produced by ruminant animals.
“While most countries around the world can meet their methane reduction targets by increasing clean energy sources, New Zealand’s situation is more complex. We are heavily reliant on agriculture for export revenues and employment, which must continue. Yet we need to materially reduce agricultural methane emissions to help New Zealand achieve its 2030 reduction target of 10% below 2017 levels.
“Other methane mitigation products in development are primarily feed additives. However, because New Zealand farms are grass-fed systems, feed additives are not a very practical solution.
“The aim is for our bolus solution to be suited to every ruminant animal, on every New Zealand farm. There is no other solution currently available anywhere in the world like it. It’s a real game-changer,” says Reeves.
To date, the company’s focus has been on delivering a large cattle bolus for cattle weighing over 300kg. “Government funding will allow us to accelerate development of our current bolus for large cattle, while also developing bolus solutions for smaller cattle and sheep,” says Reeves.
Reeves confirms the company’s research and development programme will focus on fine-tuning the product technology over the next three years, including robust testing to ensure the solution is safe for animals and does not impact on the quality or safety of the food they produce.
Reeves confirms that if the Ruminant BioTech bolus is broadly adopted it will have a significant effect in reducing New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions and help enable the country to achieve it’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.
Ruminant BioTech’s research team will work closely with farmers, supply chain partners and industry bodies as it furthers product development.