By Gordon Davidson

SCOTTISH farmers have been tasked with reducing their methane emissions by 30 per cent but the means to achieve that will soon be on their doorstep under a new deal just struck between the Scottish Government and sustainable nutrition company, Royal DSM.

With the support of Scottish Enterprise, the company is to invest more than £100 million in a manufacturing site at Dalry, in North Ayrshire, where it will produce its new livestock feed additive Bovaer, which has the potential to reduce gut methane emissions from cattle and sheep by approximately 30%.

The project will be a substantial boost to Royal DSM’s existing Dalry production facility for micro-nutrients, which employs more than 300 people. Preparatory work on the new plant at Dalry is under waywith it set to be fully operational by 2025.

Royal DSM announced the plan following a meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the COP26 climate change summit. Ms Sturgeon said: “Methane reducing feed additives are a crucial part of the solutions that the agriculture sector needs to deploy towards achieving climate ambitions.

"This multi-million-pound investment will make Scotland the home of this innovative product and highlights that Scotland is leading the way in delivering a net zero future. I’m pleased to also welcome this boost to the Scottish economy, securing the Dalry site’s long-term future and safeguarding more than 300 existing jobs with an anticipated increase of job numbers of around 10%. We will also see 100-150 construction jobs created over two years.”

Bovaer has been researched and developed for more than 10 years by Royal DSM, which claims that just a quarter teaspoon of the feed additive per cow per day consistently reduces enteric methane emission by approximately 30% for dairy cows and up to 90% for beef cows.

Scientists agree that reducing methane emissions is an important lever to reach the Paris Agreement target of maximum 1.5 degree warming, especially since methane’s warming effect is shorter lived and more potent than carbon dioxide.

Programme director at DSM, Mark van Nieuwland, said: “We are looking forward to offering a scientifically proven effective solution to the challenge of methane emissions by farming. We know the agricultural and livestock sectors recognise this opportunity for change and are eager to act.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with the Scottish farming sector to help it meet its net zero targets. To accommodate farming systems which favour grass-fed cattle as in Scotland, further development is ongoing to produce forms applicable to grazing systems.”

Ms Sturgeon continued: “Our vision for the future of agriculture in Scotland is a positive one, with a clear ambitious aim – to transform how we support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“In October, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands announced a National Test Programme of funded measures to assist in reducing agricultural emissions, with up to £51 million of investment over three years.

"We continue to work collaboratively with our agricultural industry, environmental bodies and renowned scientific partners to consider the complex issues around multi-faceted land use and decisions that impact on them, while we identify the best way to ensure delivery of these outcomes in line with a Just Transition.”

WWF Scotland’s food and environment policy manager, Sheila George, commented: “This is exciting news as innovative solutions like feed additives will be an important tool in the box to reduce methane emissions from livestock. It’s good to see Scotland increasingly become a hub for solutions such as this, which help ensure we can produce world-class food, while reducing its climate impact.”