The Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Cattle Methane Team based in Armidale and Trangie has been selected as a finalist for the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. The DPI Cattle Methane Team works in partnership with the University of New England and includes DPI researchers Dr Robert Herd, Dr Paul Arthur, Dr Katherine Donoghue, Dr Simon Bird and Dr Stephen Barwick, and Professor Roger Hegarty from UNE.
DPI Deputy Director General, Agriculture NSW, Michael Bullen said it is wonderful to see agricultural research recognised through the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
“Congratulations to the DPI Cattle Methane Team for their dedication and innovative research and their nomination in Australia’s most comprehensive national science award,” Mr Bullen said.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are presented annually by the Australian Museum to award excellence in the fields of science research and innovation, science leadership and commercialism, science communication and journalism and school science.
Dr Robert Herd said cattle are responsible for 7 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions and that government and society generally would like these emissions reduced.
“The research is showing that there are large differences between animals in their feed efficiency and methane emissions,” Dr Herd said.
“There are bulls out there whose progeny are more feed efficient and naturally produce less methane. Breeding for these types of cattle will ensure an environmentally sustainable future for our beef cattle industry.
“As a result of this research, Australian beef producers are the first in the world to have access to breeding values for bulls to simultaneously reduce the cost of production and reduce their carbon footprint by being able to breed cattle that are more feed efficient.
“Measuring the burps of methane greenhouse gas from hundreds of cattle has been a challenge and has required tremendous co-operation between the scientists and technicians of DPI and UNE.
“We now have world-class people, expertise and facilities within DPI and UNE and are working closely with our cattle breed societies to develop the tools breeders can use to find their superior animals,” Dr Herd said.
The cattle methane reduction project is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of the Climate Change Research Program and Meat & Livestock Australia.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are a unique partnership between government organisations, institution, companies and individuals committed to celebrating the vitality, originality and excellence of Australian Science.
The 2013 Caring for our Country Landcare Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture is sponsored by Caring for our Country, an Australian Government initiative.
Winners of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes will be announced at the Award Dinner to be held on 4 September at Sydney Town Hall.