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MPI keen for a measure

The Ministry of Primary Industries is looking for research proposals to measure New Zealand’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture is the Wairarapa’s largest emissions source, taking up 78 per cent of the regions total gross emissions, according to a 2019 Wairarapa combined district greenhouse gas Inventory.

Agricultural emissions are made up of carbon dioxide, and shorter-lived gasses such as methane.

Ministry for the Environment said gross agricultural emissions in New Zealand in 2020 was made up of 44 per cent carbon dioxide, 44 per cent methane, 11 per cent nitrous oxide and, 2 per cent fluorinated gases.

Between 2018 and 2019, Wairarapa emitted 1,734,320 gross tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent [tCO2e].

The report said Wairarapa’s emissions made up about 41 per cent of the Wellington Region’s total gross emissions of 4,190,050 tCO2e.

Currently, farmers can get a farm-level estimate of their greenhouse gas emissions using commercially available calculators.

Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium said in a 2016 report that the calculators often relied on the use of default emissions from specified activities and only consider a limited number of factors that influenced greenhouse gas emissions in practice.

“They are, however, useful for assessing how emissions change over time in response to management decisions such as fertiliser use and changes in animal numbers.”

MPI said its annual funding round for greenhouse gas inventory research fund opened on July 14, with approximately $2.1 million on offer.

MPI’s director of investment programmes Steve Penno said the ministry was looking for proposals to maintain and improve the nation’s agriculture, forestry, and land-use inventory.

“The inventory calculates and records greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in New Zealand, as well as carbon sequestration from forests.

“It will be used to account for mitigation technologies as they are developed and implemented on farms in New Zealand.”

Research priorities for this year’s funding include: Methane, plant effects on emissions, top-down emissions verification, modelling and data, sequestration, land use and land-use emissions, reviews and updates to existing inventory items, projections and targets, policy-driven research, and nitrous oxide.

Penno said the new research would be important in enabling reporting to the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the United Nations under the Paris Climate Agreement

He said the fund also contributed to world-wide efforts to drive down agricultural emissions.

“As one of the only developed countries with a largely pasture-based agricultural economy, we’re also able to share our research outcomes with less developed countries with similar agricultural sectors to boost their knowledge.”

Penno said the research would provide invaluable baseline data to continue efforts to mitigate New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

He said the data would go “hand-in-hand” with the goals of the government and sector roadmap Fit for a Better World, a key part of which is retaining our position as a global leader in producing high quality food and fibre, while reducing the sector’s carbon footprint.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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