Funding of €1.4 million is being provided to a research consortium, involving University of Galway, to pioneer greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction solutions for agriculture.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with special responsibility for research and development, Martin Heydon, and Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland, Andrew Muir made the announcement today (Monday, July 1).

Teagasc, the Northern Ireland-based Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) are also involved in the project.

They will work with scientists at the University of Galway to expand testing and evaluation of a combination of cutting-edge technologies and farming innovations to lower methane emissions from cattle and sheep.

Reducing GHGs in agriculture

The research-based project, Methane Abatement in Grazing Systems (MAGS) focuses on evaluating solutions for feed, breeding and manure management.

It aims to apply the most effective feed additives, while improving their formulation for long-lasting effects, in combination with novel genomic breeding and manure management.

Prof. David A Kenny, head of the Animal and Bioscience Research Department, at Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Co. Meath with PhD student ‘Blessing’ Omobolanle Kalenikanse. Image source: Tony Keane

Scientific analysis will identify the best combinations of strategies which can be delivered on farms in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.

Minister Martin Heydon said: “The €1.4 million committed to the MAGS project by my department, along with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, is an indication of our ambition and commitment to reduce methane emissions from agriculture.

“The MAGS project will focus on further developing technologies, including methane inhibitors and breeding strategies, for application in beef and dairy pasture-based systems to mitigate animal and manure methane.

“Ireland has committed to reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030. Research investment into novel methane reduction technologies through projects like MAGS is a central part of achieving these targets.

“An important aspect of the project is research collaboration, and I am pleased that the project coordinator, Dr. Sinéad Waters, has brought together scientific partners from across the Island of Ireland to concentrate ideas, expertise and knowledge in a way that accelerates progress in these novel technologies,” Minister Heydon added.

Minister Andrew Muir added: “I am pleased that my department is co-funding this research project with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, bringing together leading scientists from across the Island of Ireland to address, through cutting-edge science, greenhouse gas emissions from grazing livestock systems.

“Collaborative research funding of this nature is key in helping to underpin the future sustainability of dairy, beef and sheep systems, through the provision of evidence and new innovations to contribute to the required reductions of net greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland by at least 48% by 2030 under the Climate Change Act.”


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agriculture contributes about 37% of Irish GHG emissions.

The government has committed to reducing these farming related emissions by 25% by 2030, including a recommended 10% reduction in agri-methane.

Methane accounts for about 70% of emissions associated with agriculture, predominantly from methane produced in the gut of the animal as feed ferments in the rumen.

Methane from manure and slurry are the third largest contributor to emissions from farms, according to researchers.

Methane abatement in grazing systems

MAGS is an all-island initiative, with funding of €1.437 million through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s 2023 Research Stimulus Fund.

The project will develop, apply and validate a range of the most promising novel technologies, including breeding strategies, feed and manure additives to mitigate methane in beef and dairy farming.

Beef cattle at Teagasc Grange, Co. Meath and Holstein Friesian dairy cows at AFBI, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland will be used to evaluate novel slow-release feed additives in combination with microbiome-assisted genomic breeding values on animal performance, health and enteric methane emissions.

The effect of manure and slurry additives at farm-scale will also be monitored.


Various slow-release formats of an oxidising methane inhibitor, commercially known as RumenGlas and developed by Glasport Bio, will be evaluated, both on its own and in combination with a range of other promising feed additives for beef and dairy cattle.

A trial at Teagasc Grange demonstrated that a pelleted format of the inhibitor reduced methane by 28% with no negative effects observed on animal performance or health.


The efficacy of a slurry additive, GasAbate, produced by GlasPort Bio, will be tested at farm-scale, with the aim of creating a blueprint for widespread agri-sector roll-out.

Methane losses from stored manures account for about 10% of Irish agricultural GHG emissions, according to the group of researchers.

No effective, widely implementable and commercially available mitigation solutions currently exist. But research has shown the GasAbate additive reduces methane losses from stored slurries by more than 80%, the consortium has said.


In conjunction with the ICBF, the MAGS project will develop and validate a selection and breeding programme for beef and dairy cattle that emit less methane which is produced from the gut during grazing.

Research by the project partners has already shown that some beef cattle can emit up to 30% less methane, for the same level of performance.

While the critical role that the rumen microbial community plays in methane emissions is acknowledged, the integration of microbiome data to improve genomic selection breeding of animals emitting lower methane emissions has not yet been applied in Ireland or internationally, the research partners have said.

Dr. Sinéad Waters, MAGS project lead and lecturer in host microbiome interactions in the environment at University of Galway, said: “Agriculture is Ireland’s oldest and largest indigenous industry but now faces major challenges in meeting the 2030 targets of a 25% reduction for farming-related greenhouse gas emissions.

“Strategies to mitigate methane emissions related to cattle and sheep need to be rapidly developed and implemented on farm to comply with these targets.

“With research partners and colleagues, and the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, our aim is to develop and deliver important solutions for the agri-food industry to reduce methane from pasture-based farms.”


Prof. Vincent O’Flaherty, established professor of microbiology at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of Galway, added: “Significant progress has been made in the development of real-world solutions to reduce Irish agricultural greenhouse gas emissions through DAFM-funded research.

“GasAbate slurry additive technology to reduce GHG emissions by more than 80% is now available for on-farm demonstration and the next phase of work through the MAGS project will provide additional evidence to support widespread adoption.

“Ireland’s pasture system provides unique challenges for the development of effective methane supressing feed additives, but the results from our work to date have been very encouraging, with greatly reduced enteric emissions demonstrated in beef cattle fed with commercially produced diets containing novel additives.”

It’s understood the MAGS project will develop and refine slow-release feed additive formats that, in combination with advances in breeding strategies, can provide critical support to Ireland in meeting its agricultural GHG targets.