THE University of Western Australia (UWA) PhD student Joe Gebbels' research comes at a time when media and policymakers are extremely aware of climate change and the need to reduce emissions.
His research - which looks into increasing productivity to reduce methane intensity - was presented at the UWA Postgraduate Showcase.
The growing pressure for governments to meet carbon emission targets has created a challenge for Australia's agricultural systems to adapt to a changing climate.
"My interest is two-fold: looking into how we can directly reduce emissions as an agricultural sector, and also how we can reduce the risk of potentially having policy intervention in the future," Mr Gebbels said.
"I think from a producer perspective it's really trying to make sure that your farm production system is as efficient as possible.
"If we can demonstrate that we are making progress in terms of emissions, we can also reduce that risk of regulatory intervention."
When governments use policy changes to achieve emission targets it can have a significant impact on the profitability of farming.
This has occurred in New Zealand, which has legislated emissions reduction targets for its agricultural sector by 2050.
New Zealand also recently announced it will introduce a price for methane emissions of 11 cents per kilogram.
"Obviously, if there was a similar price in Australia, that would have an impact on the profitability of our own systems," Mr Gebbels said
"It's about getting ahead of the game in that sense and making sure that we are able to demonstrate we are efficient in our production systems but also able to make progress in the future."
To limit the probability of government intervention, Mr Gebbels believes the key is reducing agricultural emissions by increasing the productivity of sheepmeat and wool.
Through his research, Mr Gebbels looked at how productive farming systems could potentially be and how this would affect future emissions trajectories.
"We did a comprehensive literature review to identify things that have an impact on how much emissions are produced per kilogram of sheepmeat and wool," he said.
"We evaluated our current systems through a software called GrassGro, which is a livestock system modelling package.
"Then we asked a series of producers, researchers and industry consultants what they thought our future industry enterprises might look like in terms of how productive they may be, looking at things such as how many lambs can we produce per hundred ewes."
Mr Gebbels discovered it was possible to reduce the emissions produced per kilogram of product by up to about 42 per cent in the future.
This would be achieved by producing as much product as possible off the existing ewe base by improving factors such as reproductive performance and increasing carcase weight.
"We have the opportunity to improve things such as reproductive performance, so increasing the number of lambs that are produced, which has a profitability aspect to it as well," he said.
"But it also has the benefit of reducing emissions intensity, by reducing the amount of emissions per kilogram of lamb produced.
"That helps us articulate how we are making progress in the industry."
Mr Gebbels said it was quite easy for people to get caught up in the policy that's happening outside the farmgate, rather than focusing within the farmgate on producing products in the most efficient and sustainable manner.
"If you're a producer, the more efficiently you can produce a product, the better off you'll be," he said.
Undertaking a PhD at UWA has been something Mr Gebbels had wanted to do for a long time, but he said it could get hectic with a toddler in tow.
"It's pretty busy working, studying and looking after a little toddler as well - so it's pretty full-on," he said.
"But I've enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and taking on that opportunity for further study."
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