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Bioenergy solutions can offset greenhouse gas emissions on farms

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The Bioenergy Association of New Zealand welcomed the proposal from Government in its Action on Agricultural Emissions to provide credits for reductions of gross greenhouse gas emissions from farms.

Brian Cox, executive officer of the Bioenergy Association said that “The Government proposals will open up opportunities for farmers to offset biological emissions from livestock. Currently, only the liability is counted and there is little recognition of the very significant carbon absorption that farmers already do. With a better regulatory framework, as is proposed by the Government, farmers will have recognition of the wide range of sustainable agricultural initiatives they have available.”

“The wood from shelterbelts and crop residues such as from maize can be treated and sold as a solid biofuel to replace coal and gas for process heat. Currently many of the biomass fuel options available on farms are outside the emission trading scheme rules and farmers therefore get no credit for what they can already do.” Cox continued, “Processing of dairy effluent and food wastes by anaerobic digestion provides biogas which can be used to produce on farm electricity, heating and cooling and can be used as a fuel in farm vehicles. The bio-fertiliser also produced can be used to replace inorganic fertilisers, thus reducing emissions from fertiliser use.”

Cox said that “the adoption of agricultural solutions for climate change will also broaden farm revenue sources and improve farm business resilience. All of these opportunities use proven technologies and can be implemented prior to 2025. However the proposal for a farm-level incentive scheme to reward early adopters who do reduce their emissions needs to start as soon as possible if that target date is to be achieved. Similarly the proposal to increase investment in research and development to expand the tool box and technologies available to farmers to calculate and reduce their emissions needs to start now.”

He said that it “is the current lack of recognition and of incentives that are holding farmers back from farming according to circular economy principles and thus off-setting biological emissions. Adoption of the government’s proposals, overcome that barrier.”