A seaweed additive to feed can cut methane emissions from cattle by up to 80 per cent, trials show. Image by Tracey Nearmy/AAP PHOTOS

Environment

Seaweed venture to cut cattle methane

2020-08-22 07:31:04

The CSIRO and Woolworths are among investors in a new company that will commercialise the use of seaweed to reduce methane emissions from belching cattle.

The seaweed Asparagopsis has been shown to reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle by more than 80 per cent in research trials in Australia and the USA, the CSIRO says.

CSIRO scientists estimate that if the feed additive were to be adopted by 10 per cent of beef feedlots and dairy industries globally, livestock  greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by about 120 megatonnes annually. 

That is equivalent to taking around 50 million cars off the road for a year.

The new company FutureFeed Pty Ltd has secured $13 million in investment. The other investors are AGP Sustainable Real Assets-Sparklabs Cultiv8 Joint Venture, GrainCorp and Harvest Road.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews says the seaweed additive to feed is an Australian innovation with immense global potential.

“This is a game-changer – not only for livestock production, but also for our environment – with the potential to create an entirely new industry, while supporting jobs in the Australian agriculture sector,” she said in a statement on Friday.

The company expects to see commercial volumes of the feed additive supplied into the Australian beef and dairy market by mid-2021, with international markets to follow.

The CSIRO says when Asparagopsis is fed as a supplement to cattle, it not only reduces methane emissions but also supports productivity. 

The supplement has been developed and trialled over more than five years by CSIRO in collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University.