Research on livestock farming & methane for ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
The Netherlands are taking measures to combat climate change. The coalition agreement specifies for each sector how much they must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture has been instructed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an indicative 3.5 megaton CO2 equivalent by 2030.
The livestock sector releases greenhouse gases, in particular methane and nitrous oxide. Methane is a greenhouse gas that largely determines the climate footprint of livestock farming. In order to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in livestock farming, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (ministerie van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit) gave an acceleration impulse to a package of research activities in 2018. The aim is to reduce methane emissions in the livestock farming sector and to gather knowledge about the level of emissions (measure=knowledge).
Methane emissions and livestock farming
Reducing the emissions of methane is a complex task, because shifting to other environmental effects must be avoided. Moreover, many livestock farmers are not yet aware of methane emissions on the farm and the contribution to the climate problem. With funding from the ministry, the project 'Onderzoek Veehouderij & Klimaat (Research on Livestock Farming and Climate) was launched, consisting of twelve research projects. The aim is to measure methane emissions in practice and to test a number of possible measures to reduce emissions. The research also provides insight into natural differences between cows and/or barn and manure systems and possible practical solutions. Wageningen Livestock Research is the main conductor of the research. We are responsible for the link with the business community, additional substantive support and external communication.
Communication and trust
We communicate about methane research in a positive way, with an eye to the future and with heart for the farmer. Sharing basic information about methane and livestock farming (what is it and contribution to climate change) is the starting point of the communication. The communication strategy was drawn up with input from the parties involved (ministry, LTO projects and Wageningen Livestock Research). The aim of the communication is to publicise the projects, to gain confidence in the results of the projects and to transfer substantive information. In order to clearly communicate the complex relationship between climate change, methane and livestock farming, visual communication plays an important role. Workshops, demo days, fact sheets and publications in trade journals are used.
In December 2020, the results of the Livestock Farming & Climate study were presented. We translated the research results into an accessible public version, for which we provided text and design.
Working on methane reduction
The communication surrounding this research will provide more knowledge about methane emissions in the livestock sector and the measures demonstrated to reduce emissions. The research should lead to practical and cost-effective solutions for livestock farming to achieve methane reduction. The studies from this project will be continued in 2020 in the Integrated Approach (Integraal Aanpakken) research program. Here, an integral approach - focusing on methane and ammonia - is again central. In this way, agriculture contributes to the realisation of climate objectives in the Netherlands and worldwide.
More information can be found on the website of the project.