Farmers can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and meet the targets set by the government's new Climate Change Bill by looking at new biotech solutions according to Zest Biotech chief technical officer Nathan Balasingham.
He said New Zealand should consider the opportunity to earn carbon credits by implementing some or all of the recommendations of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation to achieve a 37 per cent reduction in methane intensity.
The FAO had recommended options to reduce agricultural emissions and farming's environmental footprint, while continuing to ensure food security to feed a growing, wealthier and more urbanised world population, New Zealand biotechnologies, such as Zest Biotech's Biozest and AgResearch's high metabolisable energy ryegrass, having the capacity to increase productivity while reducing emissions.
"Both AgResearch and Zest Biotech have modelled the benefits, predicting an increase in farmgate returns of approximately $900 per hectare and a reduction of greenhouse gas of between 20 and 48 per cent," Mr Balasingham said.
"At 30 per cent reduction, a sheep and beef farm could deliver an estimated $23.40 per hectare in carbon credits. Zest Biotech has also proven that urea excretion can be reduced by 20 to 48 per cent.
"This means we can become a wealthier country, environmental champions, and affirm our grass-fed milk and meat and clean, green NZ brands."
Mr Balasingham, who developed Biozest, is a former DSIR scientist who worked with world-renowned scientist Roger Slack on how plants produce oils, or lipids. His background also includes more than 40 years of scientific and entrepreneurial innovation, such as the invention of the frozen kiwifruit drink Kiwi Crush.
The mechanism of AgResearch's rye grass and Biozest both involved lipids (oils), the difference being that the initial metabolic pathway of the rye grass was induced via gene manipulation, while Zest Biotech used molecular biology.
"Biozest technology can be implemented immediately, and there are no GMO or chemical residue barriers," he said.
"All farmers, conventional, biological and organic, can use our product. We are on a pasture-fed system that gives New Zealand an additional advantage if the Biozest technology is widely used.
"The FAO estimates that globally grasslands contain 343 billion tonnes of carbon, nearly 50 per cent more than is stored in forests worldwide. Our Biozest treatment can double pasture productivity, and therefore double the sequestration of carbon, which the FAO estimates is around 100 tonnes per hectare.
"Biozest treatment increases pasture productivity, eliminating the need to import or cultivate supplementary feed, reducing another GHG liability."