18 Oct 2019

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases

5:09 pm on 18 October 2019

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

Red seaweed is being developed as a cattle feed that could have environmental benefits.

Asparagopsis armata, in a Cawthron Institute lab. Photo: Cawthron Institute

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today.

The Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says the supplement could reduce greenhouse gas emisisons from cattle 'substantially'.

In previous trials the seaweed, Asparagopsis armata, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in livestock by up to 80 per cent.

Other products typically reduce emissions by between 10 and 20 per cent.

Fish swimming among asparagopsis armata red seaweed.

Fish swimming among asparagopsis armata red seaweed. Photo: Matthieu Sontag CC3.

Mr O'Connor says the project could be a game-changer to help farmers tackle greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.

"Australian research estimates that if just 10 per cent of global ruminant producers adopted Asparagopsis as an additive to feed their livestock, it would have the same impact for our climate as removing 50 million cars from the world's roads."

Farmers are actively looking for tools to help transition to a low emission economy, and using the product could mean farmers were able to ask for higher prices for milk and meat, he said.

"Sustainable agribusiness and transitioning to a low emissions economy is a major focus for the Coalition Government. It's why we established the $40 million a year SFFF fund last year - to invest in projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for all Kiwis.

Export potential for the products could also mean more jobs, he said.

"Aquaculture is a growth industry for this country and has the potential to play a more significant role in our economy. It's currently worth $600 million a year and employs over 3,000 people.

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