Feed cows with seaweed and help save the Earth

Who knew targeting a cow’s burps could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Well, that is the next step after new research has shown that seaweed can reduce the amount of methane a cow produces by up to 99 per cent. One might think it is an easy fix, but where do you get enough of seaweed to feed millions of cows?


The majority of methane gas comes out the front, not the back. Photo by Mabel Amber

A massive 44 per cent of livestock emissions are in the form of methane, so cutting it down should be done, if it can be done.

James Cook University professor of aquaculture Rocky De Nys, has been conducting the trialling of seaweed in collaboration with the CSIRO.

“We started with 20 species and we very quickly narrowed that down to one really stand out species of red seaweed,” Professor De Nys told the ABC.

By using an artificial cow’s stomach, the team was able to test the effectiveness of each individual species.

“You create the conditions you would see in a cow’s stomach, in a bottle,” Mr De Nys said.

Asparagopsis taxiformis was collected off the coast of Queensland and turned out to be a winner. Now they just need to harvest enough seaweed to sprinkle the diet of millions of cows.

Unfortunately, it is not an easy task.

Research scientist with Agriculture and CSIRO, Rob Kinley has been heavily involved in the project with professor De Nys.

Mr Kinley told the ABC he was concerned about the access to seaweed.

“That is the number one barrier,” he said.

“Getting enough seaweed to feed millions of cows.”

It is too costly and the resources are insufficient for wild harvesting, so setting up a cultivation process is needed. Even though that will probably cost large amounts of money too, it is our responsibility seeing that global warming is upon us.

“Three years isn’t outside the realm if we can get enough support to move with it,” Mr Kinley said.

We should move with it, don’t you think?


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