Adding a type of seaweed to a cow's diet reduces methane emissions by 99%

signal

Member
Oct 28, 2017
17,967

A puffy pink seaweed that can stop cows from burping out methane is being primed for mass farming by Australian researchers.

The particular seaweed species, called Asparagopsis, grows prolifically off the Queensland Coast, and was the only seaweed found to have the effect in a study five years ago led by CSIRO. Even a small amount of the seaweed in a cow’s diet was shown to reduce the animal’s gases by 99%. Associate Professor Nick Paul, who is the leader of the Seaweed Research Group at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), said that if Australia could grow enough of the seaweed for every cow in the nation, the country could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.
“When added to cow feed at less than 2% of the dry matter, this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane production. It contains chemicals that reduce the microbes in the cows’ stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass.” The USC team is working at the Bribie Island Research Centre in Moreton Bay to learn more about how to grow the seaweed species, with the goal of informing a scale-up of production that could supplement cow feed on a national—and even global scale.

“This seaweed has caused a lot of global interest and people around the world are working to make sure the cows are healthy, the beef and the milk are good quality,” Dr. Paul said. “That’s all happening right now. But the one missing step, the big thing that is going to make sure this works at a global scale, is to make sure we can produce the seaweed sustainably.

Since there's no single solution to reducing global emissions, this is a good thing to add to the list of things to do. I think methane is also a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 so reducing that is good.
 

upandaway

Member
Oct 25, 2017
250
I don't understand though, does it somehow make the dangerous gasses not happen? Or are they just not released immediately and are going to be released when the animal dies later?
 
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signal

signal

Member
Oct 28, 2017
17,967
I don't understand though, does it somehow make the dangerous gasses not happen? Or are they just not released immediately and are going to be released when the animal dies later?
The second digestive stomach of a cow contains bacteria that produces methane as a byproduct of the digestion process. The seaweed contains trace amounts of something called bromoform which changes the reaction so that methane is no longer produced.
 

RM8

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Oct 28, 2017
4,170
JP
I can see dumb people irrationality opposing this. It's sad that this is the first thing I thought of, lol.
 

CDX

Member
Oct 25, 2017
836
99% reduction of the methane from cows. Damn, start putting that in all cow feed now.


"If we're able to work out how to scale up the seaweed"


Oh. Sounds like it's not close to being mass produced yet. Hope they figure it out quickly. It'd be great for the environment.
 
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signal

signal

Member
Oct 28, 2017
17,967
If this works out does this put a bullet in lab grown meat development?
If you're only talking about climate impact (e.g. not ethical arguments for veganism or whatever) then there are still land and water use issues for cattle. It's unlikely that people stop consuming meat globally but a reduction in consumption plus things like this to reduce the impact of remaining livestock is a good combo.
 

FondsNL

Member
Oct 29, 2017
631
While this is an amazing use of this GIF, sadly it does miss the point.
There is still the issue of the insane amount of water needed to raise a cow, the power use and emission of the entire industry and the land needed to allow cows to graze.

As stated before it is part of the solution but I'd hardly say that this allows meat back on the menu for me.
(Don't see this as a personal attack btw, just wanting to vent my thoughts in light of the train of thought that this would give meat eating thumbs up again)
 

Moonkid

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
2,443
This is just another bandaid solution but it was worth it for the masterful use of a top 5 lord of the rings quote.
 

Famassu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,051
If this works out does this put a bullet in lab grown meat development?
Meat production still has a ton of other problems, and if we have to start mass producing this seaweed (which will presumably require energy, resources and some areas of production), those problems might just increase despite the decrease in methane. Having to feed massive amounts of food (& water) to cows is already a huge issue due to how water, energy, resource and land mass intensive meat (& dairy) production is and requiring even more shit to feed to cows isn't necessarily a net positive.
 

samoyed

Member
Oct 26, 2017
8,897
As FondsNL said, beef is still very water intensive and water scarcity will be a thing once climate change ramps up.

Meat's still going to have to leave the menu in the future.