The Global Research Alliance

Climate change and the increasing need to feed a growing global population are the two greatest challenges facing agriculture; these challenges also provide great opportunities for New Zealand’s agriculture based economy.

The Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases was formed to increase international cooperation and investment in research activities to help reduce the emissions intensity of agricultural production systems and increase their potential for soil carbon sequestration. The Alliance has 41 member countries including most of the world’s major agricultural producers; the Alliances’ increasing membership is testimony to the contributions the initiative can make towards achieving these objectives. For New Zealand scientists this provides opportunities for new collaborations with world renowned institutes and researchers and the chance to share knowledge and expertise with the global science community.

The Alliance works to connect agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research across three main Research Groups focusing on Croplands, Livestock and Paddy Rice as well as two Cross-Cutting groups responsible for Inventories and Monitoring, and Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling. Overall governance decisions for the Alliance are made by the Alliance Council and a secretariat is nominated to support member countries and coordinate the groups of the Alliance.

See for further details on the Alliance.

New Zealand’s role in the Global Research Alliance

Globally around 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agricultural activities. However, in New Zealand, agriculture accounts for almost half of our total greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand played a key role in establishing the Alliance, due to this emission profile and our well established scientific research programmes to mitigate agricultural greenhouse gases from temperate pastoral livestock systems. By collaborating and coordinating with others we can improve our farming practices and reduce our emissions without deceasing productivity.

The New Zealand Government strongly supports and promotes the priorities and goals of the Alliance. New Zealand:

  • is a founding member of the Alliance;
  • is the current Secretariat of the Alliance;
  • is co-chair of the Livestock Research Group; and
  • was the Chair of the Alliance Council from June 2011 to June 2012 when Canada took over the role of Council Chair.

New Zealand is represented in the Alliance through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), working closely with the environment and climate change groups from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry for the Environment.

The New Zealand Government has committed $45 million out to June 2019 to support the work of the Alliance. This money is available to fund research in the area of greenhouse gas emissions mitigation in pasture based temporal livestock systems. The investment is split into two categories, research and development and capability building.

The Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

New Zealand is involved in a multi-partner call through the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE – JPI). The call was initiated by FACCE – JPI with the American National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada. It aims to bring together research consortia to enhance international collaboration in the face of the global issue of climate change mitigation. To be successful projects must have at least three partners and align to a theme/topic identified by each partner. The call closed on 27 March 2013.

The New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research

New Zealand has established a contestable fund for international research The New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research. This Fund, which MPI administers, encourages collaboration and the development of an international best teams approach to tackle the global issue of livestock greenhouse gas emissions. To be successful, projects must respond to one of three research challenges targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from grazing livestock systems. The successful proposals from the Fund’s first and second rounds are now underway; the third and final round is now closed.

Other New Zealand led research and development activities have been identified as priorities by the Livestock Research Group. New Zealand’s involvement and investment is managed through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC - on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

Support for greater New Zealand: Australia collaboration in agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) holds dedicated funding to support New Zealand scientists involved with their Australian counterparts in submitting proposals to the Australian Filling the Research Gap programme. The Australian Filling the Research Gap (FtRG) programme is administered by the Australian Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and is a component of the Australian Carbon Farming Futures programme. There are 88 projects with $74 million being funded under FtRG. Funding will support research into emerging abatement technologies, strategies and innovative management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector, sequester carbon and enhance sustainable agricultural practices. The objectives and topic areas of the FtRG are similar to those of the New Zealand Fund for Global Research Partnerships in Livestock Emissions and providing support for New Zealand scientists to participate in FtRG programmes is highly complementary to existing New Zealand initiatives.

The FtRG fund's second round opened on 14 November 2012 and applications closed on 23 January 2013. Up to A$50 million was available to fund research projects in Round 2.

Round 2 FtRG priorities were:
Priority 1:   Reducing methane emissions from livestock production systems
Priority 2:   Reducing nitrous oxide emissions
Priority 3:   Increasing soil carbon
Priority 4:   Farm systems design and analysis (modelling).
Priority 5:   Adaptation to climate change with its associated climate variability
Priority 6:   International collaboration with member countries of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to better meet the aims of the Alliance and Filling the Research Gap.

As part of New Zealand’s support of the Alliance funding was made available to support New Zealand scientists wishing to participate in collaborative research activities in Priorities 1-4 that align with, and further the aims of, Priority 6. A total of approximately NZ$2 million was allocated by MPI to support such collaboration.

The Process

The application period for the FtRG programme is now closed. Applications submitted to MPI by New Zealand scientists were assessed for:

  • Relevance and benefit to New Zealand
  • Direct support for the objectives of the Alliance
  • Additionality - Is the proposed research additional to research already funded or potentially funded from other sources?

The FtRG Expert Assessment Panel (EAP) then took New Zealand research collaboration and funding support into consideration when assessing applications.

Outcomes from the second round of the FTRG fund

Four proposals involving New Zealand scientists were accepted for funding by MPI and DAFF. The New Zealand components will receive a total of NZ$929,973 from MPI, and are all part of wider projects in collaboration with Australian scientists.

An innovative solution for accurate and affordable estimates of soil carbon, NZ$464,000, Dr Carolyn Hedley (Landcare Research) and Dr Frank Kelliher (AgResearch), New Zealand in collaboration with CSIRO, Australia.
This project is developing a proof-of-concept prototype system for measuring soil condition into a field-deployable system. This will assist land managers to effectively measure and detect changes in soil organic carbon stores and will provide reliable data to improve decision making and management.

Achieving least cost greenhouse gas abatement–opportunities in Australian grains farms, NZ$185,973, Dr Val Snow, AgResearch, New Zealand in collaboration with CSIRO, Australia.
This project is modelling scenarios to estimate mitigation benefits of various management practices applicable to Australian grain farms. The project will establish case-studies with farmer groups currently involved in the Action on the Ground programme and other Grains Research and Development Corporation projects in major grain growing regions.

Farm scale assessment of soil organic carbon from disaggregated national/regional scale models, NZ$240,000, Dr Carolyn Hedley, Landcare Research, New Zealand on collaboration with the University of Sydney, Australia.
This project is developing and validating tools that will enable farm-scale estimates of baseline soil organic carbon to be derived from nationally and/or regionally calibrated models.

Impacts of Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies on whole-farm systems, NZ$40,000, Dr David Pacheco, AgResearch, New Zealand in collaboration with The University of New England, Australia.
Assisted through international collaboration of researchers from the United States of America and New Zealand, this project is filling knowledge gaps about manipulation of methane production in the rumen. The project is quantifying emissions under different forage and nutritional regimes and is estimating changes in enterprise productivity resulting from potential rumen-based methodologies for the Carbon Farming Initiative.

For a complete list of all successful projects funded under the FtRG programme, see:

The Livestock Emissions and Abatement Network (LEARN is an international collaborative network funded by New Zealand to build capability and develop practical and cost effective agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation solutions. LEARN is managed by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC - on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

LEARN has two objectives:

  1. to provide an informal, open network of researchers, policy makers, industry representatives and students interested in livestock emissions research; specifically the areas of nitrous oxide mitigation, methane mitigation, soil carbon sinks/sources and farm systems;
  2. to fund a competitive fellowship programme that provides capability-building opportunities for Technicians, PhD students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Senior Scientists in the area of livestock emissions mitigation research.

To find out more about the LEARN award programme and the types of projects being funded read the profile of past and current LEARN and GRASS award recipients.

New Zealand’s contribution to the Research and Cross Cutting Groups

New Zealand scientists participate in the Livestock Research Group and the Croplands Research Group and are also involved in the work of the Inventories and Measurement and Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling Cross- cutting Groups. New Zealand’s participation in the Research and cross-cutting Groups of the Alliance is coordinated through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC - To see more about the Alliance activities that New Zealand participates in select the Research Group headings below.

Croplands Research Group Professor Louis Schipper,
Livestock Research Group Dr Harry Clark,
Dr Andy Reisinger,
Dr Victoria Hatton,
Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Cross-cutting Group Professor Frank Kelliher,
Dr David Whitehead,
Inventory and Measurement Cross-cutting Group Peter Ettema,

New Zealand is co-chair of the Livestock Research Group (LRG) with the Netherlands. The LRG promotes ways to improve the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of livestock production systems and increase the soil carbon stored in those soils. The LRG work plan has been developed during the annual meetings of the Group. It is split into six sections and covers stocktake activities, research networks and databases; collaborative research projects; capability building; technical information and knowledge; policy support and international initiatives.

New Zealand is involved in the following activities in support of the Livestock Research Group:

1. Research Networks

Rumen Microbial Genomics (RMG): New Zealand leads this virtual global network that will encourage research collaborations to speed up the development of rumen microbial approaches for reducing methane emissions from ruminants.

Animal Selection Genetics and Genomics (ASGG): New Zealand and Australia share the coordination of the ASGG Network. This network encourages research collaboration to increase the sharing of experiences and data to reduce enteric methane emissions intensity through animal selection and targeted breeding.

2. Collaborative research projects

Low emitting phenotypes: This project support the Animal selection, Genetics and Genomics Network and will combine and coordinate research across multiple countries to improve the identification and selection of animals that emit lower levels of methane naturally.

Characterising rumen microbial diversity: This programme supports the Rumen Microbial Genomics Network by characterising the rumen microbial diversity through three projects:

Climate change and livestock: New Zealand supports this three year project that involves research institutes from Latin America. Led by Uruguay the project includes the Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. It is co-funded by FONTAGRO, a regional agricultural development fund, and aims to improve the national greenhouse gas inventories and develop mitigation options adapted to local farming conditions.

Automated methane measurement: evaluating the C-Lock system: This is an international collaboration to evaluate a field methane measurement from cattle for New Zealand conditions.

3. Technical Manuals

The Technical Manual on Respiration Chamber Design: An international collaboration between scientists in New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark and Belgium, that draws together the technical specifications of many different designs of respiration chambers.

Best practice guide on the methodologies for nitrous oxide chamber measurements from soils: a yet to be completed manual which is an international collaboration between Ireland, New Zealand, UK, Canada and Chile.

4. Regional capacity building workshops

New Zealand supports regional capacity building workshops to help organise and deliver technical capability building in regions around the world. These are run in conjunction with other Alliance member countries and relevant other international organisations and generally are in support of the Livestock Research Group, although they can also be in support of other Alliance Research or Cross-cutting groups. It is expected that new collaborative projects in these regions will be developed from these workshops.

The Croplands Research Group is focused on reducing the greenhouse gas intensity and improving the overall production efficiency of cropland systems. The Group is working to find ways to limit the losses of valuable carbon and nitrogen from crops and soils to the atmosphere, and to transfer that knowledge and technologies to croplands farmers, land managers and policy makers around the world.

New Zealand is involved in the following Croplands activities:

1. Involved in the establishment of a modelling network, which will account for all greenhouse gases within cropping systems and ways to reduce uncertainty when measuring mitigation options.

2. Interested in a future Group network to better understand how the efficient use of water and irrigation practices can mitigate Greenhouse gas emissions from Croplands.

The Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Cross Cutting Group (Soil C & N Group) aims to improve models and methodologies related to soil carbon and nitrogen and related mitigation opportunities as they affect the production systems covered by the Research Groups of the Alliance (Livestock, Croplands and Paddy Rice).

The Group seeks to achieve these outcomes by:

  • Developing improved methodologies and models for mitigation
  • Defining common objectives relating to soil carbon and nitrogen cycling modelling across the Research Groups
  • Building a common modelling platform from multiple models
  • Building collective expertise on applicability of models, uncertainty and mitigation options.

New Zealand is involved in the following activities:

1. Contributing to the inventory of models used by members across the Research Groups

2. Identifying and defining the minimal data required for each of the model types so that the performance of models can be compared against each other under a range of environmental conditions and greenhouse gas emission mitigation practices.

The Inventory and Monitoring Cross-Cutting Group aims to promote and support consistent methodologies for measurement and estimation of greenhouse gas emissions and removals and compilation of emissions inventories. The Group concentrates on issues that cut across the three Research Groups (Livestock, Croplands and Paddy Rice) and that:

  • complement and support the work of these Groups; and
  • promote improved methodological approaches

The Group shares information, knowledge, and data on inventory methods to identify priorities for collaboration that improve comparability, coherence, quality, and verifiability of emissions trends and potential mitigation actions.

New Zealand is involved in the following activities:

1. Supported a workshop in Ghana with the Groups Canadian and Netherlands Co-Chairs.

2. Involved in developing the Group's terms of reference document, particularly the sections dealing with: identifying opportunities to involve Partners with the work of the Group, best practice guidelines for greenhouse gas measurements and determining emission intensity, increasing capability, capacity and understanding of greenhouse gas emissions/removals.


Last Updated: 08 September 2014

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