Lincoln University is a partner in the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC). The NZAGRC is a partnership between the leading New Zealand research providers working in the agricultural greenhouse gas area. The NZAGRC is a ‘virtual’ Centre and the research that it funds is carried out by researchers working in their own organisations. The N2O greenhouse gas research programme focuses on manipulating some of the N inputs to reduce the quantity of N2O released and on manipulating the processes that form and release N2O. Nitrous oxide makes up around one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand agriculture.
Lincoln University hosts the National Centre for Nitrous Oxide Measurement; which is part of the NZAGRC. The Centre has a capacity to process more than 1000 nitrous oxide samples a day, making it one of the best specialist facilities of its type in the world. Lincoln University researchers are working with multiple partners (AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research) to find ways to reduce the emissions of nitrous oxide from agricultural land, including dairy farm land, and thus reduce its impact on climate change.
Climate Change Adaptation and its links to Disaster Risk Reduction are being explored by Lincoln researchers through a ten year MBIE funded multi-institution National Science Challenge – ‘Resilience to Nature’s Challenges’. Lincoln researchers are focused on the ways in which rural businesses and communities, especially transient communities (freedom campers, seasonal workers, tourists) and coastal communities (urban or rural) can be made more resilient to the risks of disaster that are exacerbated by climate change. In doing so they are drawing on research on research ranging from ecosystem services to planning to adapt to climate change in such diverse settings as Nepali forest communities, Small Island Developing States (with the UNISDR), local rural lake and stream side communities and red zoned parts of Christchurch City. This is leading to recommendations for change in national legislation such as the Resource Management Act and new ways to create incentives for individual businesses to invest in reducing their risk exposure. The research directly informs and draws on student research at PhD and Master’s levels.
Lincoln University contributes to the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases which has 46 member countries from all regions of the world. The Alliance is focused on research, development and extension of technologies and practices that will help deliver ways to grow more food (and more climate-resilient food systems) without growing greenhouse gas emissions.
Lincoln University is involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the farm by exploring the possibility of renewable fuel. The latest excitement is over Japanese grass Miscanthus x giganteus. Planted as shelter belts in open farmland, Miscanthus grows to 2.5m in the first year and 4m when ready for harvesting after two. Baled and fed into small-scale diesel processing plants, it is capable of producing 9000 litres of fuel per hectare. The fuel is a direct diesel substitute, or ‘drop-in fuel’, that doesn’t need to be blended with mineral fuel like bio diesel. According to Peter Brown of Miscanthus NZ it is compatible with manufacturers’ engine warranties and is even slightly better than the stuff we get from the pumps, with higher octane rating. It is also best harvested in winter, when the machinery needed is normally lying idle.