Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the beef and dairy sectors, representing 2.5% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Microbes in the digestive system of four-chambered-stomach animals, called ruminants, like cattle and sheep, produce methane through the digestion of forages and concentrate feeds. To address this concer, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research is awarding a $455,704 Seeding Solutions grant to Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) to reduce enteric methane emissions from ruminants using plant and fungal sources. Purina Animal Nutrition is providing matching funds for a total $914,543 investment.
Led by Penn State distinguished professor of dairy nutrition, Dr. Alexander N. Hristov, researchers are investigating using a non-synthetic form of an anti-methanogenic compound, 3-nitro-1-propionic acid (3-NPA), as a feed additive to reduce enteric methane in ruminants. Through a series of tests done in vitro in a laboratory and on living sheep and lactating dairy cows, Hristov and his team are determining the ideal dietary and biological conditions, as well as 3-NPA sources and doses, required to reduce the maximum methane.
This project is testing both the efficacy of using a naturally sourced methane-suppressing compound, as well as a sustainable, cost-effective method for delivering it from fungal and plant sources. Identifying a natural additive that could be used by both conventional and organic producers and that does not diminish production will help fill the critical need for an effective enteric methane mitigation strategy from ruminant livestock.
“Our preliminary data have shown a considerable methane mitigating potential of 3-NPA at practical inclusion rates” said Hristov. “This grant, in collaboration with our industry partner, Purina Animal Nutrition, will allow us to investigate the possibilities of enhancing 3-NPA content in plant and fungal sources, determine feasible application methods and propose an effective enteric methane mitigation option to livestock producers.”
FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant Program is an open call for bold ideas that address pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Hristov’s research furthers FFAR’s Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area, as well as AgMission™, a FFAR and World Farmers Organisation (WFO) initiative to develop climate-smart solutions for farmers and ranchers.
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.