New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.

The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA).  It aims to boost production and utilisation of pastures by at least 30 percent on farms in the Southern Cone and Central America.

It will use drones and simulation models to measure and monitor pasture growth and implement a cloud-based service to provide information to more than 4,000 producers to help them optimise pasture management and increase forage production. Continue reading

Does irrigation increase the storage of carbon in soil under temperate managed pastures?

Scientists at Plant & Food Research, Lincoln University and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research have conducted a study on Lismore silt loam soil collected from a dryland lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) pasture on the Ashley Dene Research and Development farm in Lincoln, Canterbury.

Their main objective was to measure the effect irrigation has on the distribution of photosynthate carbon (photosynthesis derived-carbon) within the plant-soil system. This study was motivated by the lack of data available on this subject from grazed pastures in temperate climates.

The growing demand for meat, wool and dairy products has resulted in increased use of fertiliser and irrigation to enhance pasture production.

Understanding the responses of soil organic carbon to these pasture management practices is needed to assess their role in contributing to or mitigating further increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

Reporting on the Lincoln research, Plant 7 Food says continuous non-radioactive isotope 13-carbon dioxide (13CO2) pulse labelling of temperate perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and white clover pasture (Trifolium repens L.) was applied to two treatments that simulated irrigated and dryland management.

The researchers observed no differences in accumulation of new photosynthate carbon (13C) in soil between the irrigated and dryland treatments – despite the irrigated treatment having significantly increased above-ground pasture productivity and reduced root biomass.  However, the irrigated treatment had reduced 13C in rhizosphere soil, and increased 13C in the 53–250 µm and < 5 µm soil size fractions compared with the dryland treatment.

These results indicate the importance of the scale at which soil processes occur, and can be used to improve models to predict more accurate soil organic carbon cycling under temperate managed pastures.

This research was funded by the New Zealand Government to support the objectives of the Livestock Research Group of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

Journal reference:

Carmona CR, Clough TJ, McNally SR, Beare MH, Tregurtha CS, Hunt JE 2020. Seasonal irrigation affects the partitioning of new photosynthate carbon in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 143.

Source:  Plant & Food Research

Scholarship placements for agricultural emissions scientists have doubled

Scholarships have been announced for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries.  They are another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Hundreds of applications were received for this fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food and Farming Global Research Alliance Development Scholarships), Mr O’Connor said.  Nearly twice as many scholarships were awarded as in the previous round.

The Minister said:

“The growing interest from GRA member countries and host research institutions is impressive, and shows the high regard for this programme among the global climate science community.

“Supporting these international study programmes is one of many ways New Zealand is contributing to addressing agricultural emissions. Doing so will provide us with key knowledge to help farmers in New Zealand and in other countries to farm more sustainably.”  Continue reading

New scholarship programme highlights NZ as global leaders in agricultural climate change

A new scholarship aimed at boosting global scientific expertise in agricultural emissions was announced today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The new scholarship, called the New Zealand Global Research Alliance Doctoral Scholarships (NZ-GRADS) programme, will enable six science students from developing countries to complete their PhDs at a New Zealand university.

“New Zealand is a global leader on climate change. As part of that leadership role, we’ve created these scholarships to support global efforts to tackle climate change and foster the next generation of climate scientists. We need to ensure the world’s brightest minds have access to our world-class education,” Mr O’Connor said. Continue reading

NZ Govt supports future agriculture emission science leaders

Thirty-one early-career scientists from 14 developing countries will each receive research scholarships to boost their scientific capability, with help from a New Zealand government-supported international PhD programme, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

The successful scholarship recipients for 2020 are being announced to coincide with the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid.

The scholarships are being provided by the Climate, Food and Farming Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Development Scholarships programme, or CLIFF-GRADS.

CLIFF-GRADS is a joint initiative between the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – in which New Zealand has a leading role – and the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programme of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). Continue reading

High demand for New Zealand funded international agri-science scholarships

The latest winners of a New Zealand and CCAFS-funded international PhD scholarship have been announced following a three-fold increase in applications.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw say the increased demand clearly demonstrates the value countries place in the programme, which provides scientific solutions to reduce greenhouse gases in food production.

A total of 212 applicants from more than 50 countries applied, compared to 65 applicants from 23 countries in the previous round earlier this year.

Students will research rumen microbiology, rice production, soil science, and rangeland management, among other topics.

“The strong interest in the scholarships reflects the global desire to ensure food production systems are economically and environmentally sustainable in the face of an ever hungrier world,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The range of scientific disciplines and diversity of production systems covered by the scholarships highlights the complexity of the challenge of tackling greenhouse gases from food production.

“As an agricultural economy, New Zealand understands the importance of getting this right and the vital role that science will play. Many around the world are now looking at what agricultural expertise can deliver in terms of low-emissions food production to feed the world’s growing population.” 

Twenty-seven scholarships will be awarded to students from 17 countries who will be hosted by institutions in 15 countries, with winners announced at the UN climate talks in Poland, where Minister Shaw is attending the final week of talks at COP24 with New Zealand’s delegation.

“We’re really pleased that New Zealand is able to support this vitally important programme,” says James Shaw.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of many of our fellow GRA members and partners, particularly CCAFS, for providing exciting opportunities for these students,” James Shaw said.

New Zealand provides core funding to support the scholarship programme, which allows early career scientists to undertake 4-6 month research exchanges at institutions of GRA members and partners, including CGIAR Centres.”

The PhD scholarship programme, CLIFF-GRADS, is a joint initiative of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases  – in which New Zealand has a leading role – and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Programme for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security .

Further details are at and

Source:  Ministers of Agriculture and Climate Change

NZ funding boost for budding agriculture scientists

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have announced the first successful candidates of a New Zealand-funded international doctorate scholarship programme for budding agriculture scientists.

The PhD scholarship is a joint initiative of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – on which New Zealand has a leading role – and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) programme on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS).

The scholarships will help up-and-coming agriculture scientists in developing countries working on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research.

“New Zealand’s farmers are world-renowned for their efficient food production but all agribusinesses face the challenge of being economically and environmentally sustainable,” says Damien O’Connor.

“It’s important we support the next generation of science leaders if we are to develop techniques to reduce agricultural emissions without compromising world food security.

“We export excellent primary sector products and can do the same with our expertise.”

Some 65 applicants from 23 countries applied for the scholarship following its launch at the United Nations climate conference in November last year.

The nine successful first-round candidates come from a range of countries including Argentina, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Scholarship recipients will work in a range of research fields including nutrient management, pasture management, soil and rumen microbiology, tropical agriculture, and greenhouse gas measurement.

New Zealand provides $400,000 in funding to support the scholarship programme, which will allow more than 30 early career scientists to undertake 3-4 month research exchanges at CGIAR centres and other affiliated research institutions of GRA members and partners. Several countries are providing in-kind sponsorship.

Source: Minister of Agriculture 

New scholarship to support greenhouse gas research

A new $400,000 scholarship programme to build global expertise on climate change, agriculture and food security,  announced at the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) Council meeting in Tsukuba, Japan, will boost New Zealand’s contribution to agricultural greenhouse gas research.

The scholarship is a joint initiative of the GRA and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

It builds on the $20 million a year New Zealand already invests in agricultural emissions.

This funding support will enable up to 40 recipients to be hosted in research centres of GRA partners and member countries over the next three years.

New Zealand has been a long-standing donor of the CGIAR, most recently committing a further $11 million over two years to its network of research institutes around the world.

For more information see




Another step forward in research to reduce methane emissions from sheep

AgResearch scientists and US researchers have identified microbial differences in the rumens of sheep with high or low methane emissions.

Part of a Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research project, the work has been carried out by the Rumen Microbiology team at AgResearch Grasslands in Palmerston North and at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in San Francisco.

Methane belched from sheep and other ruminants accounts for around 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities. It is produced in the rumen by microbes called methanogens and the work targeting these organisms is aimed at reducing methane emissions from ruminants.

The results have just been published in the top-ranking journal Genome Research, according to a media statement from AgResearch.

AgResearch scientist and project leader, Dr Graeme Attwood says they are one of the first major findings of the four-year project.

Continue reading