Summary: Ruminant Methane Assessment (RMA) is a tool for assessing developing country livestock production systems and is applicable to both dairy and beef systems. It is based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) methodology known as AMS-III.BK developed by RuMeth International Ltd. (RuMeth). This innovative Clean Development Mechanism methodology was specifically designed to assess nutritional efficiency and methane emissions from large ruminant production systems in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It enables practitioners to assess the efficiency of large ruminant production systems and demonstrate the environmental impact and greenhouse gas mitigation potential of those systems. For an example of a recently completed RMA see Kenya Dairy Nutrition and Methane Report
Background: The RMA methodology is based on the work of Richard Bowman, President of RuMeth. Mr. Bowman was the chief architect of the world’s first ruminant methane mitigation project funded for carbon offset crediting, helped develop guidelines for monitoring and measuring ruminant methane emissions, and worked as expert counsel to the USEPA to formulate ruminant methane mitigation projects and develop protocols for ruminant methane assessment.
RuMeth formalized the methodology and protocol for evaluating the efficiency of ruminant methane emissions in AMS-III.BK, which was approved by the UNFCCC CDM Executive Board in 2014. This methodology incorporates the scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Research Council (NRC), and peer reviewed agricultural university research. AMS-III.BK is the only internationally approved methodology for evaluating ruminant methane.
Assessment: The RMA is an effective tool for assessing the efficiency of developing country ruminant production systems and livestock development projects and is adaptable to a wide range of production systems and interventions. Specific applications include:
- baseline analysis to identify weak links in livestock production systems;
- project analysis to calculate the effect of technical interventions; and
- impact analysis in terms of increased production, income, food security, and decreased enteric methane emissions.
- A range of applications, single operations to regional production systems or national inventories; and
- Adaptability to a wide range of large ruminant production systems and interventions.
Application: RuMeth International uses the RMA to conduct ruminant methane assessments of developing country livestock production systems and projects. Specific assessments may include:
- Carbon Offset Projects
- Value Added Certifications
- Host Country Inventories
- Livestock Development Projects
|Case study: High-End Smallholder Dairy Producers in Ethiopia
The RMA methodology was used to collect and analyze data from an indicative survey of 35 high-end smallholder dairy producers in target districts of the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. Producers were feeding a baseline ration of niger meal, wheat bran, star grass hay and other forages. Summary data analysis indicated that:
- 95% of farms surveyed had severe macro mineral imbalances, greatly impacting reproductive health, and reducing productivity by nearly 60%.
- 52% of farms surveyed experienced shortfalls in macro mineral availability, limiting daily milk production from 20% to 96%
- 87% of farms surveyed experienced imbalance in macro nutrients (protein and energy) resulting in a decreased daily milk production of anywhere from 25% to 72%.
- 98% of the rations being fed contained feedstuffs which either contributed minimally to the nutrient uptake of the animal, or actually hindered nutrient uptake.
Further analysis of baseline nutritional and production data identified macro mineral imbalance (calcium:phosphorus ratio) as the primary constraint to increasing daily milk production, length of lactation, and calving intervals. The secondary constraint identified by applying the RMA was a deficiency in energy relative to the ration’s protein levels. This imbalance of the macro nutrient portion of the ration resulted in a lower than potential daily milk production and an increased feed expense. The analysis than ran projections of the effect on milk production of first balancing the macro minerals (addition of calcium supplementation) and then balancing the macro nutrients (substitution of improved forages for a portion of the forage component). The expected impact on milk production is as follows:
|Daily Milk Production||16 liters||21 liters||28 liters|
|Length of Lactation||215 days||300 days||300 days|
|Calving Interval||730 days||427 days||427 days|
|Annual Milk Production||1,720 liters||5,385 liters||7,180 liters|
|Methane (gms CH4/kg milk)||76.10 grams||25.20 grams||20.88 grams|