DSM and Arla Foods to test methane additive in large-scale on-farm pilot study

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/123ducu
© GettyImages/123ducu

Related tags Dsm methane emissions Bovaer Arla Foods dairy cows

DSM is joining forces with Arla on a pilot to test its additive aimed at methane emissions reduction, Bovaer, in 10,000 dairy cows across three European countries.

The initiative involves more than 50 farms in Denmark, Sweden, and Germany.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 2022, Arla will work with its farmer owners to ensure a diverse group of farms within the program. Farmers, during the on-farm pilots, will receive Bovaer from their feed suppliers and mix it into the feed for their dairy cows. Arla will collect milk samples for analysis and comparison to milk from dairy cows that were not fed the feed additive. If preliminary findings are as expected, Arla plans to double the pilot project to include 20,000 cows in 2023, said DSM.

A similar collaborative project between DSM, FrieslandCampina, and Agrifirm, aimed at testing Bovaer in 200 dairy farms in the Netherlands, is getting underway in the second half of 2022. 

Both pilot studies follow EU approval for the feed supplement in February this year.   

DSM has researched and developed the feed additive over ten years, across 14 different countries. Previous tests with Bovaer at the Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden showed an average reduction in methane in enteric emissions per kilogram of milk of 30%, leading to a reduction of approximately 10% in CO2 footprint, reported the company.

Bovaer works by suppressing the enzyme that triggers methane production in a cow's digestive system. It takes effect immediately and is safely broken down into compounds already naturally present in a cow's stomach and is scientifically proven to not affect the milk quality, said the developer.

DSM has invested in a new large-scale facility in Scotland to produce Bovaer. In November, the Dutch firm said it had enough commercial product volumes of the product for near term market development. However, to prepare for anticipated further scale up in the next years, a new production facility was required. Initial work on the plant has already got underway, with it set to be operational in 2025.

Australian partnership

Beyond the EU, the additive is commercially available in Brazil, Chile, and Australia.

Earlier this month, one of Australia’s largest cattle producers, the North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCo), signed a collaboration and supply agreement with DSM, which will see Bovaer used through the NAPCo supply chain. "In Australia, we have followed the relevant market approval process and can now go to market. We are starting with feedlot, and, together with NAPCo, we will explore how to reach the rest of the chain,” ​a DSM spokesperson told us.

The company is also engaging with the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources on a roadmap to reduce methane emissions in agriculture.

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