From beaches to burps: native Australian seaweed key to reducing methane emissions from cows

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Case study
Publication Date: 
April 2021

An Australian research company born out of the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is promoting using native seaweed to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

Australian scientists have found that a genus of seaweed native to Australian coastal waters could provide a global solution to methane emissions from livestock.

Scientists at CSIRO have developed a cost-effective patented feed ingredient. A newly established company, FutureFeed, is taking it to the commercial market.

FutureFeed’s solution uses a specific type of red seaweed (‘Asparagopsis’) that massively reduces methane emissions. Studies have also suggested increased growth in cattle and sheep.

Methane from livestock burps and farts is a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Direct livestock emissions account for around 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Feedlot trials in beef cattle using less than 1% of FutureFeed’s Asparagopsis showed a reduction in methane production of more than 95%.

The potential climate impacts from this product are unprecedented. If just 10% of global livestock producers adopted FutureFeed as a feed ingredient, it would be like taking 100 million cars off the world’s roads.

A number of groups worldwide are currently establishing commercial-scale production of Asparagopsis. Researchers are growing the seaweed on open water line culture and in ponds in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Ireland.

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