In the pursuit of sustainable practices and environmental stewardship, the livestock industry finds itself at a crucial crossroads. Among the numerous challenges faced, the urgent need to reduce methane emissions from beef and dairy operations has emerged as a paramount concern. Recognizing the significance of this issue, Cargill Animal Nutrition is lending farmers in these sectors a hand to address it through their new initiative, Reach4Reduction™.
Through the program, Cargill partners with farmers to help them adopt and scale sustainable agricultural practices that support the long-term viability of their business while reducing methane emissions. In this Industry Perspectives, the company’s Global Category Lead for Ruminant Sustainability, Joanne Sharpe and Senior Technology Manager Beef Cattle – Brazil, Pedro Veiga R. Paulino, takes Feedinfo behind the scenes of this approach and talks to us about the innovative work involved to help ruminant farmers reduce methane emissions. We also take a closer look at the development and efficacy of the company’s new methane emissions reduction solution, SilvAir™, which it launched last year.
In addition, Mr. Veiga joins us for a special episode of Feedinfo’s Feed for Thought podcast, which digs into what Cargill Animal Nutrition's methane reduction efforts look like in one of the world’s key beef producing markets, Brazil. This includes the regulatory landscape and the involvement of the government and farmers, some of the innovative strategies, like drone technology, Cargill Animal Nutrition is investigating in the region, the impact of SilvAir trials on grazing animals, consumer attitudes towards sustainably produced beef, and more.
Click play below to listen or download the episode.
[Feedinfo] Ms Sharpe, let’s kick off with what defines Cargill Animal Nutrition & Health’s methane emission reduction strategy?
[Joanne Sharpe] Today, methane emission from beef and dairy cows is a leading environmental issue facing farmers as consumer and regulatory pressure to implement sustainability initiatives increases. Cargill Animal Nutrition partners with farmers to help them adopt and scale sustainable agricultural practices that support the long-term viability of their business.
Our Reach4Reduction™ program offers an innovative, holistic approach to reducing methane emissions while supporting each producer's production goals. It’s a strategy rooted in our commitment to partnering with farmers to transform systems and scale solutions that drive lasting change for the future of our industry.
We believe being good stewards of the environment isn’t just good for the planet, it’s critical to protecting farms – and the livelihood of farmers – for this and future generations to come.
[Feedinfo] Tell us more about Reach4Reduction™. What does this programme encompass and what makes it so unique?
[Joanne Sharpe] Reach4Reduction™ represents Cargill Animal Nutrition’s holistic approach to sustainability and methane emission reduction in ruminants. We leverage our deep expertise and experience to provide customers with tailored solutions to maximize animal productivity while reducing ruminant emissions. Key areas include managing on-farm productivity to improve feed conversion rates, expertise in optimizing animal health and nutrition, and innovating for new additives and solutions that reduce methane and nitrogen emissions.
At Cargill, we partner with producers to measure and define their efficiency – or total output versus inputs – which is a critical driver of farm productivity and sustainability. Additionally, we are investing in and researching feed ingredients and the way feed is formulated to monitor the impact on animal performance alongside methane reduction. Feed additives, such as rumen modifiers, can directly influence enteric fermentation and methane reduction. Solutions like plant extracts, nitrate, sulfate and fumarate, modifiers to reduce hydrogen, and seaweed are currently being researched as part of a holistic approach to methane mitigation.
Additionally, to support fact-based decision making, Cargill provides integrated digital farming tools and data-backed solutions that help customers address challenges, such as maximizing performance and achieving sustained productivity, and ultimately doing more with less.
With Cargill’s holistic approach, methane emission reduction is within reach wherever you are in your sustainability and operational journey.
[Feedinfo] I wonder if we could just zoom out a bit and look at the work you are doing with farmers to reduce methane emissions. You say you work with producers to measure their efficiency, but what exactly does this look like? How do farmers evaluate which solutions are right to support their methane emission reduction journey?
[Joanne Sharpe] Keeping farmers at the forefront of cutting-edge innovations and technologies, Cargill provides access to products, tools and resources that help them adopt and scale sustainable agricultural practices while building the long-term viability of their business and protecting natural resources.
We help producers to understand their total methane emissions compared to ruminant product output to identify potential efficiencies that can support enhanced on-farm sustainability.
Take Cargill’s Nutrition System (CNS), for example. It offers customers real-time nutrient analysis of feed ingredients and global ingredient sourcing data, and, via our nutrition software, dairy MAX™ and beef MAX™, precise feed formulations tailored to variables like life stage, geography, business goals, nutrient requirements, and local ingredient availability and costs. This can help with improved performance predictability and consistent economic returns.
CNS supports farm productivity and sustainability by uncovering new and unconventional raw materials, helps reduce nutrient waste, supports herd management and includes recently added sustainability metrics making it easier to measure environmental impact.
Through Cargill’s Reach4Reduction™ holistic approach, we provide customized formulations that maximize nutrient absorption and utilization of raw materials and ingredients, and minimize waste – keeping animal needs, farm goals and the environment top of mind.
[Feedinfo] How do you ensure that methane emission reduction solutions are an economically viable exercise for farmers?
[Joanne Sharpe] For decades, Cargill’s highly trained team, including my colleague Pedro, has helped farmers around the globe navigate supply chain complexity while pursuing initiatives that sustainably support farmer livelihoods.
For example, dairy MAX™ is an economic modeling tool within CNS designed to provide the best diet to maximize efficiency and profits. It can also provide valuable insights on predicted sustainability and environmental impact based on the ration formulation, including enteric methane emission prediction and various nutrient efficiencies (Nitrogen and Phosphorus). Using this innovative, decision-making tool allows farmers to examine the impact of nutrition on their sustainability objectives.
By improving feed conversion rates and driving toward zero nutrient waste with our nutrition technologies, Cargill continues to support producers do more with less. Producing more milk or protein with less feed inputs is one way livestock will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, leveraging Cargill’s research, partnerships and expertise across the supply chain gives producers access to innovative solutions and technologies that support their operation’s productivity, builds a more sustainable future, and meets tomorrow’s food demands.
[Feedinfo] Now, Mr Veiga, let’s change gears a bit. Last year Cargill launched SilvAir™, your methane emissions reduction solution. Could please you give us a bit of background on the product. How long was it in development for and what has been the industry’s reaction to it so far?
[Pedro Veiga] At Cargill, we are constantly innovating to offer a range of solutions that address methane emission reduction. One specific example is Cargill’s SilvAir™.
This nutritional solution is a patented, carefully manufactured, feed-grade calcium nitrate and acts as an alternative hydrogen sink. It works by capturing hydrogen before it becomes methane and turns it into ammonia.
After more than 10 years of research into the use of dietary nitrate, including peer-reviewed papers and trials in dairy and beef cattle, sheep and goats, customers in Europe are the first to benefit from SilvAir’s unique technology that helps farmers address environmental challenges while maintaining herd production.
[Feedinfo] What can you share with us on SilvAir™’s efficacy? In the marketing material you say that it can reduce enteric methane production by up to 10%. How were you able to prove this?
[Pedro Veiga] In addition to extensive Cargill research, trials around the globe have demonstrated that including SilvAir™ in dairy diets at the recommended rates can reduce methane emissions by up to 10%, with no negative impact on performance. This represents a reduction in the production of CO2 equivalent of 1kg per cow per day when SilvAir is included at a rate of 1.6% of the total diet dry matter in dairy diets. In beef, it can reduce CO2 by around 50kg per animal during the finishing phase. An animal that consumes 10kg of dry matter from a confinement diet produces methane, in an amount equivalent to 4–5kg of CO2/day, which would give approximately 500kg of CO2 in 110 days of finishing.
SilvAir is a nutritional solution, which means it also provides an alternative source of dietary protein and calcium. Because of this, diets that include SilvAir must be reformulated to replace some existing ingredients and ensure excess levels of crude protein are avoided.
SilvAir is authorized for use in animal feed under EU regulations and in the UK and has been approved for use in several national systems in European countries and is beginning to be adopted by carbon auditing tools. As we discuss in the accompanying podcast to this Industry Perspectives (which you can download here), we are also trialing it in Brazil.
[Feedinfo] In addition to products like SilvAir™, there are various methane emission reduction solutions discussed across the industry that hold the potential to reduce methane production and emissions, like seaweed, essential oils, and more. Can you tell us more about some of the “trends” in methane emission reduction solutions? Is Cargill investigating these solutions?
[Joanne Sharpe] There are two routes to managing methane emissions in cattle; the first is direct methane mitigation via reduction. Products and solutions within this route have the sole purpose to reduce methane emissions from the cow without having a direct impact on animal performance. These solutions include the seaweeds, SilvAir™ and other bespoke solutions under development across the globe. They work in different ways – but most aim to alter or inhibit the process of methane production in the rumen.
The second route is methane mitigation through production intensity. This entails products and solutions that are developed to improve animal performance and health, but as a consequence of any improvement generated, methane emissions will also be reduced per measure of production output. Many feed additives available today, such as Diamond V™ XPC™, fall into this category, and is why there has been an increase in claims around methane reducing properties of some ingredients and additives.
With Cargill’s Reach4Reduction™ holistic approach, we continue to investigate innovative ways to reduce methane emission in ruminants and currently have offerings in our portfolio from both routes to address this sustainability challenge.
[Feedinfo] How does Cargill Animal Nutrition & Health plan to continue driving solutions that benefit both farmers and the environment in the future?
[Joanne Sharpe] Farmers are the key to feeding the world sustainably and efficiently. Yet there are external factors that threaten the vitality of farmer livelihoods and the ability to provide safe, sustainable protein to the world.
At Cargill Animal Nutrition we are constantly innovating to provide solutions for our global customers that address and solve for this increased complexity as they balance animal health and welfare, performance, and business economics while reducing their environmental footprint. We innovate through connection – by working with our customers to create, develop, pressure test and refine new solutions and by investing in digital and data-backed offerings that help customers maximize animal production and performance and deliver results.
Customer success is at the forefront of everything we do. With our Reach4Reduction™ holistic approach, Cargill Animal Nutrition is your partner to uncover nutrition’s power to do more with less to feed the world and protect the planet.
NOTE: Some of the products and solutions shared in this Industry Perspectives are not available in all markets.
Published in association with Cargill Animal Nutrition