Red Seaweed to Reduce Methane Emissions from Cows

Alan L. Johnson

In a recent article published by Zoya Teirstein in FoodTank, she explains that researchers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia have found a unique type of red seaweed indigenous to Australia that with reduce methane production in cows. According to the article:

Led by Professor of Aquaculture Rocky De Nys, researchers found an addition of less than 2 percent dried seaweed to a cow’s diet can reduce methane emissions by 99 percent. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an Australian federal research agency.

What is so amazing about this research is that:

Methane is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in a 100-year time span, and a single cow releases between 70 and 120 kilograms of methane per year. Burps from cows account for 26 percent of the United States’ total methane emissions, and the U.S. is only the world’s fourth-largest producer of cattle, behind China, Brazil, and India. There are currently approximately 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows roaming the planet.

This means that with methane's short half-life, a big drop in methane emissions, assuming CO2 stayed constant, would reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in a matter of years. A comparable drop in CO2 emissions would take centuries to have any effect. It's exciting to see that there is a fix to methane gas production.

The article goes on to say that:

When the researchers tested a species of red algae called Asparagopsis taxiformis that grows off the coast of Queensland, Australia, they found it reduced methane production by more than 99 percent in the lab. In addition, it only required a dose of less than 2 percent to work effectively. Upon digestion, Asparagopsis produces a compound called Bromoform (CHBR3), which interacts with enzymes in ruminant stomachs and halts the cycle of methane production before the gas is released into the atmosphere

While there is not enough seaweed to possibly feed all the cattle worldwide, the discovery of Bromoform (CHBR3) shows we may be able to find a more deliberate way to reduce methane gas production in cows, which could dramatically change the global emission picture.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What do you think about emissions and their impact?

Q2. Do you monitor your own emissions? How?

Q3. How can you inform others about this amazing breakthrough?