Saliva test to help reduce greenhouse gas

A saliva test is among a range of measures that could help beef farmers reduce methane emissions in Australia's $14.6 billion cattle industry by as much as 30 per cent.

Scientists at the University of Queensland say breakthrough technology including saliva tests and DNA marker technology, will help cattle producers in their attempts to become carbon neutral by 2030.

In October, Australia also signed on to the US-led non-binding pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent over the next decade, joining 122 other countries.

Professor Ben Hayes, director of animal sciences at the university, said the projects being launched on Monday are targeting the northern beef industry where the majority of cattle emissions are produced.

"Because they're grazing lower quality forage, but it's a bigger challenge, it's harder to get these strategies out ... they might be mustered once a year," Prof Hayes told AAP.

The saliva test is expected to cost as little as $20 a test but it's unlikely to be available for around four years.

Dr Elizabeth Ross who led the project told AAP the saliva tests will now be used on 240 cattle to check its effectiveness.

"Then we can use a prediction algorithm and brand new sequencing technology to work out which animals are going to naturally produce less methane," she told AAP.

Producers will then be able to select which low-producing methane cattle to breed and which to cull.

"We can keep producing the same amount of meat, but the cattle that are producing that meat will be making less methane."

Prof Hayes told AAP the researchers are also using DNA marker technology to again allow producers to breed out or cull the high emitting animals.

"We can run an analysis to tell what DNA profile is associated with lower emissions," Prof Hayes told AAP.

The measures are part of a growing number of technologies that are being used in the challenge to reduce methane.

The federal government committed $8 million in its budget to assist in the commercialisation of asparagopsis.

Around 80 per cent of the emissions come from grazing cattle.

Jason Strong from the meat and livestock association said the cattle industry is still on track to meet its pledge to reduce methane emissions by 25 per cent in the agricultural industry by 2030.

"The target of CN30 (carbon neutral by 2030) is still very much in the frame, so there's no reason to think that it's not achievable."

"There's no silver bullet," Mr Strong told AAP.

"We know there is growing interest from our global customers and consumers around where food is from and how it's produced," Mr Strong said.

But he concedes the difficulties in measuring methane on free ranging cattle has made the challenge more difficult.