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Farming: Could daffodils hold the key to reducing cattle methane emissions?

By David Porter

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A chemical called haemanthamine extracted from daffodils could held reduce methane emissions.
A chemical called haemanthamine extracted from daffodils could held reduce methane emissions.

SRUC scientists’ research into reducing cattle methane emissions using a chemical from daffodils is part of a project awarded £2.8 million by the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The scientists have successfully extracted a chemical called haemanthamine from the plants.

In the laboratory, using an artificial cow's stomach, they showed it could reduce emissions by 30 per cent when added to feed.

In partnership with Innovate UK, The Dancing with Daffodils project, which is being run by a consortium including SRUC, will look at transforming the efficiency and sustainability of ruminant farming.

The partnership organisations also include Rumenco, Agroceutical Products Ltd, Analox Group, Beneve Ltd, Bioextraction Ltd, Bangor University, CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock), Grampian Growers Ltd and Wynnstay.

Professor Jamie Newbold from SRUC said: “New innovations are required to address the need to maintain ruminant production while decreasing the environmental consequences.

"We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative project with a wide range of partners.”

SRUC will be involved in the evaluation of the newly developed feed additive and will also be responsible for assessing the dose of feed additive with the greatest potential to reduce methane emissions and improve feed digestion efficiency at farm level.

Annie Williams, Business Development Manager at CIEL, said: “The project will focus on the development of an innovative feed additive to reduce methane emissions and enhance protein utilisation in ruminants.

"Secondly, the cultivation of a new cash crop, daffodils, for farm diversification purposes, and then finally the creation of a precision on-farm gas analyser to monitor methane emissions.

“Currently, livestock farming faces scrutiny in terms of its environmental impact and resource utilisation, particularly when it comes to methane contributions.

“Through the project, we can work to address these challenges head-on, and find a practical solution for making livestock farming more sustainable.”

The consortium will work closely with farmers, industry stakeholders, and policymakers throughout the project's lifecycle to ensure alignment with the sector's needs and priorities.

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