Adding seaweed to cattle feed could reduce #methane production by 70%
While researchers have been looking into seaweed’s potential for curbing livestock emissions for a couple of years now, the most exciting result came out in late 2015, when a team from Australia found that a particular type of local seaweed, called Asparagopsis taxiformis, reduces methane production by more than 99 percent in the lab.
That’s an impressive figure, but doesn’t really mean much until it’s applied to real animals, right? Well, researchers from James Cook University in Queensland did just that, and found that they could cut a significant amount of methane emissions - and with a very small amount of seaweed.
“We have results already with whole sheep; we know that if Asparagopsis is fed to sheep at 2 percent of their diet, they produce between 50 and 70 percent less methane over a 72-day period continuously, so there is already a well-established precedent,” one of the team, Rocky De Nys, told ABC News.
As agriculture researcher Michael Battaglia from Australia’s CSIRO explains over at The Conversation, the reason this particular type of seaweed is so effective is because it produces a compound called bromoform (CHBr3), which blocks methane production by reacting with vitamin B12 at the last step.
“This disrupts the enzymes used by gut microbes that produce methane gas as waste during digestion,” he says.