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Seaweed venture to cut cattle methane

By Dairy News Australia

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 dairy cattle by more than 80 per cent in research trials in Australia and the United States, the CSIRO says.

AGP Sustainable Real Assets-Sparklabs Cultiv8 Joint Venture, GrainCorp, Harvest Road, Woolworths and CSIRO have committed to investing in the company.

CSIRO scientists estimated 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.

The dried and processed seaweed is fed to cattle as a supplement to their regular diet,

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

The new company, FutureFeed Pty Ltd, has secured $13 million in investment.

Federal Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the seaweed additive to feed was 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,” Ms Andrews said.

To study just how much less methane cattle produce when fed the Asparagopsis supplement, their emissions are measured in special chambers.

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

The CSIRO said when asparagopsis was fed as a supplement to cattle, it not only reduced methane emissions, but also supported 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.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said FutureFeed was science solving the seemingly unsolvable – reducing the emissions but not the profits.

Asparagopsis growing in tanks.

“FutureFeed enables agriculture and the environment to be partners not competitors, helps overcome negative perceptions of the cattle industry, and gives Australian farmers an advantage in the global marketplace as first adopters of this Aussie innovation,” Dr Marshall said.

“FutureFeed is addressing some of the greatest challenges we face, including food security, sustainable production and climate change, by turning science into a real product in the hands of business, so they can turn it into jobs and economic growth.

The company will be exploring market options for greenhouse gas abatement payments for livestock producers that adopt the supplement.