Australian researchers have found red seaweed has the ability to reduce cow and sheep methane production by up to 90% when mixed with stock feed.
The findings have led the South Australian Government to allocate $1.5m over two years to support the establishment of a commercial seaweed industry in the State.
It says seaweed production could be worth $140m a year in South Australia with the potential to create 1,200 jobs.
This has also prompted the granting of the first licences to establish a commercial seaweed farm and a partnership between seaweed producers and livestock companies.
Two licences were granted in January to allow the establishment of a commercial seaweed farm on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
The production leases and licences for 10ha within the east Point Pearce intertidal aquaculture zone, and 30ha within the west zone have been granted to the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC).
NNAC is working in partnership with CH4 Global, a company focused on farming marine seaweeds for commercial purposes to reduce greenhouse emissions in the livestock industry.
Meanwhile, CH4 Global announced a world-first agreement to supply enough Asparagopsis seaweed supplement for up to 10,000 head of cattle to an agriculture hub near the South Australian city of Port Pirie, last month.
Cattle are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with every one of the 1.5bn cows on the planet producing about 100kg of methane a year.
Research by Australia’s peak scientific body CSIRO found that the red seaweed Asparagopsis mixed with regular cattle feed at a rate of 100 grams per cow per day reduced methane production by 90%.
CH4 Global has purchased a licence from patent owners CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University and gained regulatory approval for the material to be sold in Australia.
The red seaweed will be cultivated by CH4 in South Australia where the company has signed a partnership agreement with the NNAC.
“CH4 believes in circular and regenerative economic principles and is extremely excited by our collaboration and partnership with NNAC,” said CH4 Global CEO and co-founder Steve Meller.
“Working with the Narungga Aboriginal Nation to generate maximum sustainable benefit for its people – jobs, training, and a leadership role in climate mitigation is what CH4 is all about.”
The first farm at Point Pearce will produce two species of red algae: the warm water species Asparagopsis taxiformis and a cool water species Asparagopsis armata.
This will ensure high growth rates throughout the year.