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Is seaweed the key to reducing methane in burping cattle and sheep, or an over-hyped risky investment?

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Is seaweed the key to reducing methane in burping cattle and sheep, or an over-hyped risky investment?

The means for seaweed to in the bargain of methane emissions in sheep and cattle is being overblown and investors are in danger, according to one of the nation’s leading experts on seaweed.

Key points:

  • The CSIRO claims an asparagosis additive will in the bargain of emissions induced by burping sheep and cattle
  • Marine ecologist Dr Pia Winberg says the hype reminds her of the failed investment explain in algal biofuels
  • A Tasmanian dairy farmer is feeding a couple of of his herd a everyday ration of asparagopsis in canola oil

Dr Pia Winberg is a world-notorious marine ecologist, who has developed Australia’s first industrial seaweed farm on the south hump of Fresh South Wales.

Early Newspaper

Australia’s height scientific company CSIRO found the methane-reducing properties of asparagopsis seaweed, and claims its FutureFeed additive will in the bargain of the shut to 10 per cent of Australian emissions induced by burping sheep and cattle.

A report by Australia’s rural examine corporation, AgriFutures, claims asparagopsis production might perchance well lead to a billion-greenback seaweed industry in Australia by 2040.

Woman holding seaweed in a glass bottle

Dr Pia Winberg says the hype around asparagopsis reminds her of the failed investment in algal biofuels.(

ABC Landline: Sean Murphy

)

Dr Winberg mentioned asparagopsis might perchance well technically abet in the bargain of greenhouse gases induced by the digestive means of ruminant animals, nonetheless it completely became as soon as seemingly to exercise decades to turn into commercially viable.

“Or not it is not a huge chop yet, so there’s years of technology to compile to the point the attach we can inaugurate to farm it, and then or not it is additionally a extraordinarily costly chop.

“So the actuality of it becoming a commodity at scale is a miniature of a whisper to date.”

Woman in lab coat with microscope and screen on wall showing up-close projection of asparagposis

The CSIRO found the methane-reducing properties of asparagopsis.(

ABC Landline: Margot Ellis

)

Support for trials

The federal authorities is supporting further examine, including a $1 million grant to a company growing the seaweed on the east hump of Tasmania.

Sea Forest is trialling sea and land-basically basically based production and is ready to scale up production on an 1,800-hectare marine rent.

Co-founder Sam Elsom mentioned the formulation to farming asparagopsis became as soon as unruffled developing, nonetheless to this point the trials produced more seaweed biomass than anticipated.

“Now we beget an enormous marine quandary to expand on in time and we beget now developed some huge-exciting solutions for each marine and land-basically basically based farming. Or not it is not as a long way-off as we think.”

Man with beard standing on beach

Sea Forest co-founder Sam Elsom says farming asparagopsis will turn into commercially viable.(

ABC Landline: Margot Ellis

)

Nevertheless he concedes more work is important on how to swear a seaweed supplement to animals consumed pastures, rather than in feedlots.

“The grass-fed machine is a big one on chronicle of we don’t beget a resolution at the 2d.

“Now we beget some solutions and a miniature bit examine and sort into how we can assign the asparagopsis supplement in a grass-fed machine, nonetheless that might near alongside in time.”

Mr Elsom is conducting on-farm trials with major dairy processor, Fonterra.

‘Future of the livestock industry’

In the Tasmanian Midlands, Richard Gardner is feeding a portion of his 1,300-solid dairy herd with a everyday ration of asparagopsis in canola oil.

“In my mind right here’s the design forward for the livestock industry worldwide,” he mentioned.

The trial will first determine any security or quality implications for the milk.

Dairy farmer Richard Gardner

Richard Gardner is feeding a couple of of his dairy herd asparagopsis in canola oil.(

ABC Landline: Margot Ellis

)

Mr Gardner hopes asaparagopsis will finally in the bargain of his dairy farm’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to two thirds and replicate production advantages flagged in earlier CSIRO experiences.

“In some circumstances there became as soon as more than 20 per cent increase in feed conversion efficiencies in beef cattle,” Mr Gardner mentioned.

Or not it is unclear how distinguished farmers and processors would be willing to pay for the supplement to boost their inexperienced credentials. Sea Forest hasn’t attach aside a tag on what would make it viable to duvet its price of production.

Seaweed under the sea and a boat above water

Sea Forest is trialling sea and land-basically basically based production of asparagopsis.(

Provided: Sea Forest

)

Hype when put next to algal biofuels

Nevertheless for Dr Winberg, price just will not be the greatest danger.

Even supposing it asparagopsis becomes commercially viable, its assist as a prolonged-duration of time resolution to climate change is proscribed on chronicle of methane reverts to natural atmospheric CO2 in much less than 10 years.

She believes the pork industry would be higher served by investment in reducing more than 60 per cent of greenhouse equal gases in cattle production, including fossil emissions induced by vehicles.

She mentioned the growing hype around asparagopsis reminded her of the failed investment explain in algal biofuels a decade ago, the attach promising early examine failed to end result in a commercially viable industry.

“I felt so powerless watching the science being misinterpreted to pressure mass investment in algal biofuels technology,” Dr Winberg mentioned.

Australia’s pork industry is dedicated to being carbon neutral by 2030.

Look this story on ABC TV’s Landline at 12: 30pm on Sunday, or on iview.

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Is seaweed the key to reducing methane in burping cattle and sheep, or an over-hyped risky investment?