Zero Net Emissions Agriculture Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-Ag CRC) set to scale sustainability

May 17, 2024

The Zero Net Emissions Agriculture Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-Ag CRC) is Australia’s largest to date. It evolved from and relies on university science.

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Dr Debra Cousins, Chair, ZNE-Ag CRC reflects on The Zero Net Emissions Agriculture Cooperative Research Centre    (ZNE-Ag CRC) is Australia’s largest to date and how it evolved from and relies on university science.

Involving 11 university partners, three Indigenous organisations, and multiple industry partners and SMEs, the ZNE-Ag CRC has secured $300 million in funding over 10 years. The Federal Government’s contribution of $87 million is the largest in the CRC program’s history. Chair Debra Cousins details why university partners are critical to developing the innovative solutions needed to transition Australian agriculture to a zero net industry.

Many people don’t fully realise how important science is to everyday life. Everything we use, our food and drink, health, technology — none of this is possible without university science.

When this CRC was being considered, it was a kernel of an idea around a global problem of significance to Australia. The university science was already happening, with good collaborations between universities, government and industry. Once the conversations started, industry gravitated towards the project — people were ringing us up wanting to be involved.

The CRC bid gained momentum because partners recognised that reducing emissions needed a concerted, nationally coordinated effort. There are 87,000 Small to Medium Enterprises in Australian agriculture — small farming families, as well big corporations, all moving towards farming sustainable food. But agriculture contributes 16% of our emissions nationally — mostly methane from cows and sheep.

To tackle this challenge, we need to build on fundamental university research, while testing existing and emerging solutions at commercial scale. No single technology will get us to net zero emissions. The solution will be several technologies that together lead to low emissions, and we’ll need to draw from innovations from many disciplines.

CRC producer sites will demonstrate how these technologies can work together in farming systems, and create pathways to low-emissions agriculture. We need to know what we come up with is effective, impactful and doesn’t affect the farmer’s bottom line.

 Dr Debra Cousins, Chair, ZNE-Ag CRC

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