Is seaweed key to reduce cows methane emissions?

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Is seaweed key to reduce cows methane emissions?

A new research project will develop feed supplements with seaweed that can reduce cows’ emissions of greenhouse gases. Danish Agriculture & Food Council believes the new innovative knowledge will benefit a green transition.

Brown, green and red algae may be the preferred dinner of the future for Danish cows. A new Danish research project will over the next four years investigate whether Danish farmers can use a special feed supplement made from seaweed that can inhibit the development of methane in the stomach of cows. The research project is called “Climate Feed”.

The goal is to reduce methane emissions from cows by up to 30%. And that fits well with Danish Agriculture & Food Councils’ vision of creating a climate-neutral food production by 2050.

Even today, Danish farmers reduce the methane emissions of cows through the feed, but none of the solutions used today can cut as much a percentage of the methane. Therefore, seaweed as a feed supplement will be a huge step forward if it has the expected effect. Technically, it is the content of strong antioxidants and tannins in the seaweed that can stop the development of methane.

Collaboration across the food sector

The Danish Technological Institute are managing the project with support by the Innovation Fund Denmark. Also included in the project are the company Danish Seaweed, the Danish agricultural advisor SEGES, that works with building bridges between research and farmers, researchers from Aarhus University, DLG and DLG’s subsidiary Vilofoss, which produces feed materials and the dairy company Naturmælk is also involved.

Facts about the research project Climate Feed:
  • In the project, methods must be developed to grow, harvest and process seaweed to a product such as dried powder or pills that the farmer can add to the feed.
  • The product must have a documented and stable content of the active substances that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from the cattle, without compromising milk performance and the taste and quality of the milk.
  • The company Danish seaweed will together with the University of Aarhus participate in the selection of the best seaweed species and cultivation methods.
  • The seaweed must be processed in Denmark by Vilofoss and DLG.
Facts about the climate impact of agriculture:
  • Danish agriculture’s official emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gases amount to approx. 20% of Denmark’s total CO2 emissions.
  • Approx. 30% of the official agricultural emissions is methane from ruminant cows.
  • According to international studies, Danish milk production is among the most climate-efficient in Europe.

Source: Danish Agriculture & Food Council (In Danish)