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Seaweed trialled to reduce dairy farm emissions

  • July 20, 2020
  • 2 min read

Reducing emissions from cows has been one of the toughest challenges for the dairy industry for more than a decade.

In a step towards a potential solution, Fonterra is partnering with Sea Forest to see if using seaweed in cows’ feed can reduce emissions from commercial dairy herds.

The trial will use Asparagopsis, a seaweed grown naturally in Australia and New Zealand, as a supplement feed for herds in Tasmania during the coming milk season.

In laboratory testing led by CSIRO, the seaweed has shown the potential to reduce the emissions from cows by more than 80 per cent*.

Fonterra Australia Sustainability Manager Jack Holden says helping farmers to produce milk more sustainably is a priority for Fonterra.

“Most dairy farming emissions come from the methane cows produce as they digest their feed.

“Early testing shows the potential for these emissions to be reduced by incorporating natural seaweed into cows’ diets, so we are keen to see if those test results can be replicated in dairy herds at scale,” says Jack.

Sea Forest founder Sam Elsom says he is excited to be teaming up with Fonterra on this initiative.

“We’ve been developing this product for 18 months, so commencing this trial is a real milestone for us. This is the first trial we’ve engaged with and we hope it can assist in improving research in this space and bring us closer to commercialising this product as a feed supplement, to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of milk production.”

“We’ve partnered with Fonterra because of their commitment to sustainability and innovation and we look forward to working with them on this trial.”

* Kinley, R. D., de Nys, R., Vucko, M. J., Machado, L., & Tomkins, N. W. (2016). The red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis is a potent natural antimethanogenic that reduces methane production during in vitro fermentation with rumen fluid. Animal Production Science, 282-289. Available from from: https://www.publish.csiro.au/an/an15576