Fungus creates greenhouse-gas capturing pasture, research finds

Source: 1News

After nearly a decade of research, a new environmental hero in the war against climate change was unveiled on Friday.

Lincoln University researchers have harnessed the power of a soil fungus, that reduces nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas emission.

The team of scientists determined that certain fungi have the power to increase nitrogen use in plants, which reduces leaching into waterways and cuts harmful emissions.

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Coating the seeds of plants like ryegrass with the special fungus can be used to grow a greenhouse gas-fighting pasture, other methods involve drilling the fungus into the existing pasture.

The possibly game-changing find is lined up for further testing, with $22 million dollars funding from the Government and Ravensdown.

"It's expensive but if the alternative is to reduce livestock numbers that's expensive for everyone else as well," said Mike Manning, Ravensdown's general manager of innovation and strategy.

"Farmers desperately want to do better for the environment these are some of the tools to enable them to do better things for the environment."

There are 16 test sites across the country from Invercargill to Hamilton where nitrogen-rich urea fertilizer is laid over pasture patches.

They found that plant samples with the fungus grow faster, but more importantly, give off lower nitrous oxide emissions.

Researcher Dr Hussein Alizadeh says the early results are very encouraging.

"I have a passion for science and when I see results that are working it is quite exciting."

"Something positive for the country and farmers."