Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Feeding nitrates to beef cattle method

12 September 2016

Is the feeding nitrates to beef cattle method suitable for your business?

  • Is your beef cattle herd pasture fed?
  • Are you able to feed your beef cattle herd nitrate supplements as lick blocks replacing urea?
  • Has the land where the beef cattle herd is pastured been used for urea supplementation at least once in the last five years?

If you answered yes to the questions above, the beef nitrates method may be suitable for your business.

Projects using the feeding nitrates to beef cattle method reduce greenhouse gas emissions from pasture-fed beef cattle by substituting urea supplements with a nitrate supplement in the form of lick blocks.

Urea is often used to increase the amount of protein in the diet of pasture-fed beef cattle. It also makes pasture easier for the cattle to digest, so they tend to eat more of it, which in turn means they produce more methane. When some or all of the urea is replaced by nitrate supplements, cattle produce less methane.

The methane emissions avoided by feeding the herd nitrates instead of urea are calculated using the Carbon Farming Initiative Beef Nitrates Calculator, which is published by the Department of the Environment and Energy.You may be able to earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) for the amount of methane emissions you avoid by feeding your cattle nitrate supplements instead of urea.

Users of this method should be aware that it is important to feed nitrates and urea at safe levels, because overfeeding can cause toxicity and even death. Even feeding nitrates at or below the recommended levels has potential side effects, such as lower levels of reproductive efficiency and weight gain.

To reduce these risks, you must introduce the lick blocks at a lower concentration for the first two weeks of each feeding period and ensure nitrates are supplied to cattle as lick blocks with a specified sulfur to nitrate ratio. Sulfur is included in the lick blocks to reduce the risk of toxicity. The method and explanatory statement provide more information on the process of feeding nitrate supplements to reduce this risk.

Method variations

Section 114 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Ini​tiative) Act 2011 (the Act)​ ​allows for methods to be revised and varied. This is to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended. Variations to methods are developed and drafted by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Information on draft methods and method variations is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

The Clean Energy Regulator recommends making yourself familiar with proposed method variations relevant to your project should they arise, and how any changes between the original method and the varied method may affect your project plan.

 

Legislative requirements

You must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements to conduct a feeding nitrates to beef cattle project and earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and Resources

Quick reference guide to the feeding nitrates to beef cattle method

The quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from a feeding nitrates to beef cattle project. It includes links to the legislation, but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements.

Quick reference guide contents:

Crediting period

Seven years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

Relevant section of the Act:

​​​​

Eligibility Requirements

There are general eligibility requirements in the Act, which include:

In addition, a project must be located within Australia, including external territories. The project area must have been used to feed urea supplements to pasture-fed beef cattle at least once in the five years before the project begins.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Project Activities

A project involves fully or partially replacing urea supplements with nitrate supplements in pasture-fed beef cattle. This reduces the amount of methane emissions that the cattle produce.

The nitrate is supplied to the herd as a lick block with a specified sulfur-to-nitrate ratio (sulfur is included to reduce the risk of toxicity). Lick blocks are made available to the herd over a specified time called a feeding period or nitrate supplementation period. A feeding period must occur over consecutive days, but a project has no restrictions on the number or frequency of feeding periods.

The amount of lick blocks you supply the herd is called the opening stock. At the end of the feeding period, you remove, count and weigh all uneaten or partially consumed lick blocks. This is called the closing stock.

Note that a project is only suitable if the proposed land has sufficient pasture to meet the herds' required daily mass intake. You also need to take into account the levels of protein available from the pasture, because supplements will only reduce emissions and benefit livestock health when the protein levels of the pasture are too low. If your herd's protein requirements are already being met by your pasture, supplementing with nitrates will not provide any further production benefit.

You can use a tool called the Beef Nitrates Calculator to check whether a project is feasible for your situation. The calculator also helps you work out many of the factors you need to know to run a project, including:

  • diet information for your region
  • safe nitrate feeding levels, and
  • the correct nitrogen-to-sulfur ratio for your herd.

 

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Exclusions

Feedlot beef cattle are excluded from these projects. The dung and urine of feedlot cattle produce significantly more nitrous oxide than that of pasture-grazed cattle, and it is therefore highly unlikely that feeding nitrate supplements to feedlot cattle would reduce emissions.

In addition, land that has never been used for feeding urea to cattle is excluded, even if the herd has previously been fed urea on a different area of the property.

Relevant section of the Explanatory Statement:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

How is abatement calculated

The amount of abatement resulting from a project is calculated using the Beef Nitrates Calculator. It does this by subtracting the project's actual emissions from the baseline emissions that would have occurred if you did not feed nitrates to the herd.

The calculator automatically establishes your baseline emissions and estimates the net abatement amount for each feeding period in each area for each reporting period based on data that you enter. This includes information on:

  • herd counts and composition
  • average liveweight of cattle
  • feeding start and end dates
  • opening and closing stocks of nitrates, and
  • any urea for each feeding period.

Click for further information about calculating emissions and abatement.

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Reporting Requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Section 5.11 of the method requires that offset reports must contain:

  • the start date and end date of the reporting period
  • inputs and outputs of the Beef Nitrates Calculator, and
  • carbon dioxide equivalent net abatement amount.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Monitoring Requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, Division 5.2 of the method sets out specific monitoring requirements. You must monitor the:

  • number of animals in each livestock class
  • average liveweight of each livestock class
  • nitrate lick block consumption, and
  • consumption of non-protein nitrogen that is not nitrate.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Record-keeping requirements

In addition to the record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, Division 5.3 of the method describes specific record-keeping requirements. These include keeping records of:

  • project area location and history of urea use
  • herd management
  • herd numbers and liveweights
  • start and end dates of feeding periods, and
  • opening and closing stock and composition of nitrogen supplements used.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Audits

All projects receive an audit schedule when the project is declared and must provide audit reports according to this schedule. A minimum of three audits will be scheduled and additional audits may be triggered. For more information on the audit requirements, see the Act, the Rule and the audit information on The Clean Energy Regulator website.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

​​​​

Specialist skills

It is important to feed nitrates and urea at safe levels, because overfeeding can cause toxicity and even death. We recommend that you seek independent advice for your situation before implementing a project.

Relevant section of the Rule:

Documents on this page Documents on this page

Was this page useful?

LEAVE FEEDBACK
 
 
preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only