Seaweed may be key to cutting cattle methane emissions

A new study details a recent scientific finding that may hold a lot of promise for battling climate change: feeding seaweed to cattle drastically reduces methane emissions. Per recent research that itself looks into a practice dating back to the ancients, feeding cows seaweed can curb their methane emissions by 20-percent and up to 99-percent. Not all seaweed types are made equal, though — as it turns out, there's one particular type that can eliminate nearly all cattle methane emissions, and only a small amount of seaweed is needed to do so.

That seaweed is known as Asparagopsis taxiformis, and it is found growing in coastal waters near Australia. While other types of seaweed tested averaged a 20-percent reduction in emissions, this type was found to reduce methane by more than 99-percent. This is thanks to a particular element produced by the seaweed called bromoform. When this compound reacts with vitamin B12, it inhibits the production of methane.

Even better, and unlike the other types of seaweed, this variety is only needed in small quantities for the effects to be observed. This makes it feasible to add to cattle diets, something that has a double benefit: cows that eat seaweed are observed having better health than other cattle.

As pointed out by The Conversation, it would take 300k or so tonnes of this seaweed to feed all the dairy cattle located in Australia, where the Asparagopsis is most prevalent. Obviously seaweed farms would be required to meet the massive demand that would come with feeding cattle around the world...but that's not beyond the scope of possibility at all, and may help eliminate a massive source of methane contributing to climate change.

VIA: The Conversation