Improving emissions intensities of subtropical and tropical beef farming systems using Leucaena leucocephala

Whole farm systems analysis from the WFSAM project

Recent research suggests that the perennial legume Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena) mitigates ruminant enteric methane emissions. However its high crude protein content may offset methane mitigation by increasing nitrous oxide emissions from livestock systems. Researchers examined the effects of leucaena on emissions, production and profitability at the whole farm level using a Queensland cattle breeding and finishing property as a model.

Leucaena increased farm production by increasing animals carried and liveweight gain, improving gross margins by up to 37%. It increased nitrous oxide emissions by more than 38% but this had minimal effect on whole farm emissions because enteric methane emissions were an order of magnitude greater. Overall, leucaena reduced emissions intensity by more than 17% relative to the baseline, via a combination of enhanced liveweight gain and reduced methane.

Importantly, the returns from increased production in a leucaena system are greater than those from emissions abatement via the CFI / ERF.

Primary researchers


Harrison M, McSweeney C, Tomkins N, Eckard R (2015). Improving greenhouse gas emissions intensities of subtropical and tropical beef farming systems using Leucaena leucocephala. Agricultural Systems 136, 138-146.

Taylor CA, Harrison MT, Telfer M, Eckard R (2016). Modelled greenhouse gas emissions from beef cattle grazing irrigated leucaena in northern Australia. Animal Production Science, 56, 594–604,

More information

Research Theme


Project Status


Project Leadership

Dr Christie Ho
  • Dr Christie Ho
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Agriculture Victoria

Richard Eckard
  • Professor Richard Eckard
  • Director
  • Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre

Richard Rawnsley
  • Dr Richard Rawnsley
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

Fact Sheet

Project Team

  • Dr Brendan Cullen
    University of Melbourne
  • Dr Matthew Harrison
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Dr Alexandria Sinnett
    Agriculture Victoria
  • Karen Christie
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Natalie Doran-Browne
    University of Melbourne

Funding Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Australian Wool Innovation Limited
  • Dairy Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • University of Melbourne

Collaborating Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture