As COP26 continues to debate methane – with the US And EU having pledged to scale back methane outputs from by upwards of 30 p.c by 2030 – scientists on the Institute for World Meals Safety (IGFS) at Queen’s College Belfast are to feed seaweed to livestock in a bid to slash methane by not less than 30 p.c.
Seaweed has long been hailed a ‘superfood’ for people however including it to animal feed to scale back methane fuel launched into the environment by ruminants’ burping and flatulence is a comparatively new concept. Early laboratory analysis at IGFS has proven promising outcomes utilizing native Irish and UK seaweeds.
Earlier analysis in Australia and the USA generated headline outcomes – as much as 80 p.c reductions in methane emissions from cattle given dietary supplements from a pink seaweed selection. These pink seaweeds develop abundantly in hotter climates; nevertheless, additionally they comprise excessive ranges of bromoform – identified to be damaging to the ozone layer. Seaweed indigenous to the UK and Eire tends to be brown or inexperienced and doesn’t comprise bromoform.
UK and Irish seaweeds are additionally wealthy in energetic compounds referred to as phlorotannins, present in pink wine and berries, that are anti-bacterial and enhance immunity so might have extra well being advantages for animals.
Now the IGFS says it’s shifting into the sector, with trials on UK farms about to start, utilizing seaweed sourced from the Irish and North Seas as a feed complement for cattle.
One 3-year venture is in partnership with the UK grocery store Morrisons and its community of British beef farmers who will facilitate farm trials. The venture additionally consists of the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), in Northern Eire, as a companion.
A second venture sees IGFS and AFBI be a part of a €2million, worldwide venture – led by Irish company An Teagasc – to watch the consequences of seaweed within the weight loss program of pasture-based livestock. Seaweed shall be added to grass-based silage on farm trials involving dairy cows in NI from early 2022.
In addition to assessing methane emissions of the meat and dairy cattle, IGFS says these tasks will assess the dietary worth of quite a lot of homegrown seaweeds, their results on animal productiveness and meat high quality.
IGFS lead Sharon Huws, Professor of Animal Science and Microbiology throughout the College of Organic Sciences, stated she anticipated the mixed analysis to proof a discount in GHG emissions of not less than 30 p.c.
“The science is there. It’s merely a matter of offering the mandatory knowledge after which implementing it. Utilizing seaweed is a pure, sustainable method of lowering emissions and has nice potential to be scaled up. There isn’t a cause why we will’t be farming seaweed – this may additionally shield the biodiversity of our shorelines.
“If UK farmers are to satisfy a zero-carbon mannequin, we actually want to begin placing this sort of analysis into observe. I hope IGFS and AFBI analysis can quickly present the mandatory knowledge and reassurance for governments to take ahead,” she stated.