Agriculture accounts for the majority of methane (CH4) emissions in Ireland (85%) due to the dominance of cattle and sheep livestock production in Irish agricultural output. These ruminant animals release CH4 as a bi-product of microbial fermentation of food in the rumen and large intestine. This process, called enteric fermentation, produces more than half of all GHG emissions from agriculture. CH4 emissions from livestock depend on a number of factors, in particular livestock type, diet quality and feed intake. On-going work at Teagasc Grange is looking at the effects of management history on the interaction between the host animal, the microbial community of the rumen (its rumen microbiome) and CH4 production. The focus is on dietary manipulations in early life, when the rumen community is developing, as well as later diet transitions. The research forms part of an international FACCE-JPI project called RumenStability. Further work to collate and analyse experimental data on animal performance, N utilisation and CH4 emissions in ruminants as part of the international GLOBAL NETWORK project is also on-going.
You can read more about the AGRI-I Methane Project on the AGRI-I website