Could a puffy pink seaweed help reduce Australia’s gas emissions?
A pink seaweed native to Queensland could reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions by literally stopping cows from burping methane.
The seaweed is being primed for mass farming by researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
If Australia grows enough of the seaweed for every cow in Australia, the country's emissions could be cut by 10 per cent, according to the researchers.
Methane is a greenhouse gas and more potent than carbon dioxide.
A 2014 study by the CSIRO, named Asparagopsis, found that it significantly reduces methane production in cows by limiting the microbes in the cow's stomach that cause them to burp.
The University's Seaweed Research Group leader Associate Professor Nick Paul said adding as little as two percent of dry seaweed to cow feed could knock out production.
Seaweed is something that cows are known to eat. They will actually wander down to the beach and have a bit of a nibble.
The university's Seaweed Research Group hope to work out how to mass produce the seaweed so that it can be added to feed on a national, or even global, scale.
Project scientist Ana Wegner said the team's challenge was to find the perfect growing conditions to move crops from the laboratory to large outdoor aquaculture tanks.
"We know the chemical composition of Asparagopsis and we know the chemical compounds that actually reduce methane production in cows, so now we want to maximise the concentration of that chemical so we can use less seaweed for the same effect," Ms Wegner said.
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