cows and farmer on road

A stockman musters cattle on CSIRO's Belmont Research Station in central Queensland

Livestock Methane Research Cluster

CSIRO is involved in the Livestock Methane Research Cluster (LMRC), a collaboration between world leading scientific experts to develop accurate and practical methods to measure and reduce livestock methane emissions in the northern Australia beef herd.

  • 8 May 2012

Methane emissions from livestock account for approximately 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and over half of this comes from cattle grazing in northern Australia.

An estimated 2-12 per cent of the energy ingested by cattle is lost as methane waste, reducing beef production and costing graziers money. The northern Australia beef industry is vital to the economy of the region, and aims to implement best practice in sustainable management.

two cows with monitor collars in yard

Developing accurate methods for measuring cattle methane emissions will help inform Government policy and beef producers

The Livestock Methane Emissions Research Cluster (LMRC) is a collaborative project that aims to develop accurate and practical methods to measure and reduce livestock methane emissions in northern Australia.

Over a 3-year period, the partnership is worth more than A$8 million and will be led by the University of Melbourne.

The LMRC brings together the world’s leading scientific experts from seven universities, in Australia and overseas, to work with CSIRO to tackle this important sustainability challenge.

Project funding and research partners

The LMRC is funded by the CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship Collaboration Fund. Over a 3-year period, the partnership is worth more than A$8 million and will be led by the University of Melbourne.

Partners include:

  • University of Melbourne
  • Macquarie University 
  • RMIT, Victoria 
  • University of New England 
  • University of Western Australia
  • CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship 
  • University of Wollongong
  • University of Alberta, Canada.

Research objectives

The LMRC aims to advance measurement methods and animal enteric models for measuring methane in livestock systems. It also aims to validate, integrate and further develop existing measurement technologies to quantify methane fluxes under field conditions. This will allow for the production of reliable quantified enteric methane emission measurements from the northern beef industry and identify key drivers of emissions in order to improve mitigation strategies for the livestock industry.

four cows in field

Cattle in northern Australia account for five percent of the country’s total methane emissions

By doing so, this will help identify and develop strategies for integration of measurement science developed by the flagship collaboration into current and future government policy, and enable improvements to Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory .

CSIRO is also involved in the Reducing Emissions from Livestock Research Program (RELRP). The LMRC will compliment this research through its collaboration with world leading research organisations in Australia and Canada.

Research in context

The Australian Government's Clean Energy Act (2011) establishes a carbon pricing mechanism to come into effect from July 2012 (the ‘carbon tax’). The Act also sets a long-term target of reducing GHG emissions by 80 per cent (of 2000 emissions) by 2050.

The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a new Australian Government scheme established in 2011 to operate alongside the carbon pricing mechanism. The CFI will  grant farmers, forest growers and landholders 'abatement credits' in return for reducing their GHG emissions (mainly methane or nitrous oxide), or increasing the amount of carbon stored in soil or vegetation on their property. Landholders will be able to sell these abatement credits (known as Australian Carbon Credit Units) through Australia’s carbon price mechanism and international carbon trading markets. 

However, before abatement credits can be issued for a particular activity (such as reducing enteric methane emissions) a defined methodology for measuring the emissions savings from that activity must be approved and registered in accordance with CFI regulations. The LMRC’s research seeks to contribute to the science upon which such methods could be developed.

Learn more about Reducing livestock methane emissions.