Seaweed + Cows = Less Methane Emissions

Day 342 – Back on Day 303, I wrote about reducing methane emissions. In the post, I mentioned that a large contributor of methane emissions comes from livestock. Methane is a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas and the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.

About 70% of agricultural methane comes from enteric fermentation – chemical reactions in the stomachs of cows and other grazing animals as they break down plants. The animals burp out most of this methane and pass the rest as flatulence. There are roughly 1 billion cattle around the world, so reducing enteric methane is an effective way to reduce overall methane emissions. But most options for doing so, such as changing cows’ diets to more digestible feed or adding more fat, are not cost-effective.” – World Economic Forum

A recent study shows that using red seaweed as a feed supplement can reduce methane emissions and feed costs without affecting meat quality. The seaweed supplement reduced methane emissions by up to 67%. The hope is that this supplement can be scaled up and used throughout the cattle industry.

Commercializing seaweed as a cattle feed additive would involve many steps. First, scientists would need to develop aquaculture techniques for producing seaweed on a large scale, either in the ocean or in tanks on land. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have to approve using seaweed as a feed supplement for commercial cattle. Farmers and ranchers could also earn money for reducing their cattle’s emissions. Climate scientists would have to provide guidance on quantifying, monitoring and verifying methane emission reductions from cattle. Such rules could allow cattle farmers to earn credits from carbon offset programs around the world.”World Economic Forum

The idea of feeding cattle seaweed is a strange one. However, a world without less methane emissions is a no brainer.

Tomorrow, compostable bags.