There have been studies to suggest that using seaweed to feed livestock will reduce their methane emissions.
Scientists have found that red seaweed is one of the most effective ways to reduce a cow’s methane emissions. The seaweed has been used to produce an additive (Brominata) that is added to the cow feed.
The additive was developed in California at the Straus Family Creamery. In 2021, the organic farm carried out tests to see whether the seaweed would reduce the amount of methane released from their cows, and they were successful. Their studies showed that the enteric methane emissions were reduced by 52%. The result from one cow alone reached a 92% reduction of methane emissions.
Further research has been carried out since the farms breakthrough and scientists have concluded that only a small amount in the feed is enough to reduce emissions. They also see this as a long-term solution as they haven’t found any lowering in efficiency in the time that they carried out their studies.
One of the major problems linked to seaweed is that it takes a lot of energy to process it. The ocean can also be affected if wastewater isn’t filtered properly. If this water ends up in the open ocean it can lead to algae blooms and ocean acidification, as too many nutrients leach into the ocean’s water.
Another major problem is that this kind of seaweed is also not readily available to famers, and therefore sustainable ways of cultivating it need be found.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to make the use of Brominata sustainable. As the seaweed has been proven to lower methane emissions in cattle, it should definitely be taken seriously as livestock produce 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.