- A team of US scientists is working to cut the methane released by cows
- Cows release 25 percent of all methane into the atmosphere, bypassing the gas
- Scientists find that changing grain diet to seaweed can reduce methane
- Team observed 20% reduction in methane with seaweed-eating cows
Seaweed may be a new weapon against climate change – scientists are feeding it to cows, which produce 25 percent of all methane in the atmosphere.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire swapped corn, oats and barley for the macroalgae and found a 20 percent reduction in the toxic gas that is passed on by cows passing gas or burp.
Other studies on how seaweed can cut emissions have found that some types can cut methane by up to 80 percent.
Seaweed is being harvested from the Gulf of Maine by the Bigelow Laboratory for Oceanography, which was recently awarded a $10 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture, CNBC Report.
Along with cutting emissions, the team is very careful not to alter the taste of either cow’s milk or meat — the team told the news outlet that seaweed enhances the flavor of both goods.
Scientists are also looking for other species that can be cultivated in the same area as livestock, allowing farmers to use it more easily.
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Seaweed could be a new weapon against climate change – scientists are feeding it to cows that produce 25 percent of all methane in the atmosphere by passing the gas
Bigelow’s senior research scientist Nicole Price told CNBC: ‘We are also very interested in species that can be cultivated or farmed, not wild-harvested, as we see this as a sustainable move to guarantee quality production. Huh.
‘When we start talking about the Midwest or the center of the country, we think the microalgae solution will be most relevant because you can increase the production of microalgae where there is agriculture as well.’
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide.
Every time a cow burps or passes air, a small amount of gas is released into the atmosphere – a serious problem globally.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire swapped corn, oats and barley for macroalgae and found a 20 percent reduction in the toxic gas.
It has put several scientific groups on a mission to cut methane from cow dung and gas and has become a focus for many scientific groups in the US and around the world.
The University of California is also studying the effects of seaweed when fed to cows.
However, this group is using a type of algae, known as Aspergopsis taxiformis, which showed more promising results than the University of New Hampshire reports.
The California team added a ‘small amount’ of seaweed to the diets of 21 beef cows over the course of five months.
Angus-Hereford beef oxen were fed a normal diet of hay, grain and corn, supplemented with zero, low or high concentrations of red seaweed.
The study authors measured the amount of methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide released by individual oxen over a period of 21 weeks and found that the seaweed supplements reduced methane emissions by between 45 and 68 percent.
The proportion of forage in the base diet also affected excretion, they found.
The greatest reduction was found with a high seaweed-supplemented, low forage diet, which reduced methane production by 80 percent.
environmental impact of cow farming
Livestock are notorious for producing large amounts of methane, which is a major contributor to global warming.
Each farm animal produces the equivalent of three tons of carbon dioxide per year and the amount of animals is increasing with the increasing need to feed a growing population.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping 30 times more heat than the same amount of carbon dioxide.
Scientists are investigating how feeding cattle a varied diet can make cattle more climate-adapted.
He believes feeding seaweed to dairy cows can help and is also using herb-rich foods called Lindhof Samples.
Researchers found that cows’ methane emissions decreased by more than 30 percent when they ate seaweed.
In research conducted in August by the University of California, small amounts of it were added to animal feed and sweetened with molasses to hide the salty taste.
As a result, methane emissions have dropped by about a third.
“I was extremely surprised when I saw the results,” said Professor Ermias Kebreb, the animal scientist who led the study.
‘I wasn’t expecting it to be so dramatic with a small amount of seaweed.’
The team now plans to conduct another six-month study of a diet rich in seaweed in beef cattle, starting this month.