A feed supplement made using red seaweed could reduce methane emissions from livestock by up to 90 per cent
Spotted: There are around 3.6 billion ruminant animals, including cows and sheep, being raised at any one time. Together, they are responsible for 30 per cent of global methane emissions. Although not as prevalent as CO2, methane has a 28 times greater heating potential over a 100-year period – making it a significant contributor to global warming.
As people are not quite ready to give up eating either beef or lamb, a number of organisations are looking instead to reduce the amount of methane each animal emits. One of those is Tasmanian company Sea Forest. The startup has developed a new feed supplement for cattle and sheep, SeaFeed, that uses a red seaweed native to the waters around Tasmania — asparagopsis.
SeaFeed, when used as a regular part of the animal’s diet, can reduce livestock methane production by up to 90 per cent. The seaweed also captures carbon as it grows, helping to combat ocean acidification. And, the seaweed can be grown both on land and in the ocean, meaning there are countless potential farm locations around the world.
In 2021, Sea Forest completed an oversubscribed A$34 million (around €22 million) funding round. The money went towards a marine lease and the building of a 1,800-hectare farm and processing facility on the east coast of Tasmania. At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce up to four tonnes of the feed additive an hour. There is also interest from the Australian federal government, which recently committed $8 million (around €7.4 million) to assist in the commercialisation of asparagopsis.
Sea Forest is a 2023 Earthshot Prize finalist, but it’s not the only one working to reduce methane ‘at source’. Other innovations include a seaweed extract produced by another Australian company and a vaccine to reduce livestock methane emissions.
Written By: Lisa Magloff