In his speech to the 2010 Oxford Farming Conference the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, stated that The Voluntary Action Plan, on which the Government and the industry are working together, has an aim that in the next 10 years agriculture will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tonnes a year.

In his speech to the 2010 Oxford Farming Conference the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, stated that The Voluntary Action Plan, on which the Government and the industry are working together, has an aim that in the next 10 years agriculture will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tonnes a year.

Mr Benn added that, “reducing emissions will be about learning from the best farmers and the best science.”

It is assumed that agriculture is responsible for around 30% of all greenhouse emissions, with ruminant stock contributing to the figure by producing methane gas as a by-product of the digestion process.

Reducing the amount of methane gas produced by cattle and sheep can be achieved by creating a more stable rumen environment.

This reduction of methane gas production is achieved as a direct result of the improvement in rumen function and stabilising the pH. By reducing acidosis in high starch diets or reducing the high ammonia concentrations that occur in high soluble protein diets methane production will be reduced and improved utilisation of feedstuffs will be the result.

Stabilising the rumen will not only have the effect of reducing methane production but it will also have the effect of increasing milk yield or finishing rates, which ever is the aim, with food being used more efficiently by the animal.

So stabilising the rumen does not only contribute to the industry greenhouse emission reduction aim, it also adds to total farm income.

There are two ways in which this stability can be achieved.

The first is adding live yeast – such as Yeast-Ex® – to the feed. In the rumen live yeast acts to stabilise the rumen, by reducing the oxygen content of the rumen gasses making the rumen a more conducive place for the rumen bacteria to operate. More efficient bacteria will maximise the value and effect of the available feed.

The second is to introduce a balance of essential oils - such as Crina Nutripak® - which has a stabilising effect by reducing the rate of protein and carbohydrate degradation. This reduction will give the rumen bacteria longer to work on the feedstuff, resulting in improved rumen stability and function leading to better feed conversion.

Both these well researched options have a positive effect on farm incomes as the initial cost is outweighed by the improved milk yield or faster finishing time.

These two options give the farming community the opportunity to show that producers are committed to reducing methane production as part of the industries agreed aim of reducing greenhouse gasses by 3 million tonnes by 2020.