According to Fonterra, feeding cows seaweed could curb methane emissions


New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest exporter of dairy products, is optimistic that feeding cows with added algae can help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Laboratory studies have shown that Asparagopsis algae have the potential to reduce methane emissions from cows by over 80%, the Auckland-based company said on Friday. It has tested the supplement on a farm in Tasmania and is now rolling out the trial to other Australian farms.

“Over the last two years, 900 dairy cows on a farm in Australia have been fed small amounts of the algae supplement and the results have been encouraging at every stage,” said Jack Holden, Fonterra general manager of sustainability for Asia Pacific. “We are now expanding the trial to three additional farms to test the application of the supplement on a commercial scale. We need to find out if we can use this supplement in a way that is safe for cows and consumers and make sure it doesn’t affect the taste or quality of the milk.”

New Zealand aims to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, but its reliance on agriculture, particularly methane-producing cows and sheep, poses a serious challenge global methane reduction of at least 40% is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Fonterra has a goal of being carbon-free by 2050 and is exploring a range of solutions including kowbucha, a nod to the popular fermented drink kombucha, which contains methane-inhibiting cultures.

All solutions are at an early stage and need to be evaluated for animal health and milk implications, as well as the practical application of the supplements on dairy farms, the company said. The Tasmanian seaweed trial did not raise any problems with milk quality, animal health or production, it said.

Fonterra has partnered with Australian company Sea Forest, which has a license to produce asparagopsis for animal feed. The company grows the algae in both marine and land-based aquaculture.

Alongside the expanded trial, a new agreement with Sea Forest will allow all Fonterra farmers initial access to the Asparagopsis solution where feasible. According to Fonterra, feeding cows seaweed could curb methane emissions

Fry Electronics Team

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