Feeding cows pink seaweed could reduce their methane emissions

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Australian scientists have found a pink seaweed that can help reduce methane emissions from cows.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, microbes in cows' stomachs produce methane as part of normal digestive processes.

The gas can pass through either end of the animal, but does so primarily through the mouth, in the form of burping.

As a greenhouse gas, methane may not be as prevalent in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. But it is far more effective at trapping radiation, and is 25 times more potent than CO2.

To combat methane emissions from cattle, researchers from Australia's University of the Sunshine Coast turned to a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis, which grows naturally off the Queensland coast.

When added to cattle feed at a ratio of two percent, the seaweed reduced microbes in the cows' guts, which eliminated methane production by up to 99 percent.

According to USC Associate Professor Nick Paul, who heads the Seaweed Research Group, Asparagopsis is not a particularly abundant species.

As such, the team is currently trying to determine the perfect growing conditions for the seaweed, with the goal of growing it sustainably, at a much larger scale.

If enough pink seaweed can be grown and fed to every cow in the country, Professor Paul says Australia could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. How methane is produced by cows
2. Methane more potent than carbon dioxide
3. Pink seaweed reduces methane-producing microbes in cows, eliminates emissions
4. Seaweed not abundant in nature, needs to be farmed

VOICEOVER (in English):
"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, microbes in cows' stomachs produce methane as part of normal digestive processes."

"The gas can pass through either end of the animal, but does so primarily through the mouth, in the form of burping."

"As a greenhouse gas, methane may not be as prevalent in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. But it is far more effective at trapping radiation, and is 25 times more potent than CO2."

"To combat methane emissions from cattle, researchers from Australia's University of the Sunshine Coast turned to a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis, which grows naturally off the Queensland coast."

"When added to cattle feed at a ratio of two percent, the seaweed reduced microbes in the cows' guts, which eliminated methane production by up to 99 percent."

"According to USC Associate Professor Nick Paul, who heads the Seaweed Research Group, Asparagopsis is not a particularly abundant species."

"As such, the team is currently trying to determine the perfect growing conditions for the seaweed, with the goal of growing it sustainably, at a much larger scale."


SOURCES: University of the Sunshine Coast, The Age, ABC, EPA
https://www.usc.edu.au/explore/usc-news-exchange/news-archive/2019/august/burp-free-cow-feed-drives-seaweed-science-at-usc
https://www.theage.com.au/national/queensland/sprinkle-of-seaweed-could-give-relief-for-gassy-cattle-20190814-p52h1z.html
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-15/seaweed-for-cows-could-be-mass-farmed-reduce-methane/11414724
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#agriculture