Seaweed Diet Cuts Cow Methane Emissions “90 to 95 Percent”

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It’s called asparagopsis. It’s a seaweed that’s native to Australia that was recently fast-tracked for commercial sale by regulatory agencies for two reasons. The first: cows love it (just look at that happy cow up there). The second: studies show that feeding dairy and meat cattle a diet of asparagopsis can cut their methane emissions by up to 95 percent!

After years of frantic research and development by the CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australia and James Cook University, the first global sale of asparagopsis was announced by CH4 — one of three companies licensed to sell the seaweed — to a South Australian meat processor called CirPro.

“We’re very proud that we are the first to be able to announce a commercial supply to the marketplace,” CH4 Australia general manager Adam Main said.

CirPro chief Reg Smythe echoed his enthusiasm. “We’re starting at relatively small numbers and growing in line with CH4’s ability to manufacture the supplement.”

The Port Pirie CirPro facility that’s set to receive the asparagopsis expects to be fully operational next year, and is one of several large-scale feedlots and meat processors that will be the first to be able to order the seaweed-based, methane reducing asparagopsis before expanding its offering to other types of farm in the future.

“We’re focusing on the feedlot industry here in Australia, but our operation in New Zealand is definitely looking at the dairy market,” adds Main. “We have the opportunity of expansion from this point forward to focus on sheep, goats, camels – anything that is a ruminant … we need to also grow to be able to provide our technology to those animals that are seeing people less and aren’t supplementary fed — that is the broad-acre farming sector.”

A company called FutureFeed (a spinoff of CSIRO) currently holds the international patent rights to sell asparagopsis as a feed additive are held by FutureFeed, which has backing from Woolworths Group, GrainCorp, Harvest Road, and others. And, while the seaweed used to make asparagopsis is endemic to Australia and New Zealand, international licenses to sell the additive have been granted overseas.

If its potential to reduce methane emissions realized at scale, the international commercial market for asparagopsis could be worth billions of dollars per year (plus, you know, helping to save the planet and all that).

Source | Images: ABC News, Rural.

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