New estimates for commercial production of methane-reducing seaweed for livestock

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Handful of Asparagopsis

Commercial production of methane-reducing seaweed could help livestock farmers reduce carbon emissions while boosting productivity, new research by AgriFutures Australia and Commonwealth Bank reveals.

Estimates for the capital requirements for commercially producing methane-reducing seaweed to improve the sustainability and productivity of livestock vary widely, but Australian farmers are leading innovation in the field, new research by AgriFutures Australia and the Commonwealth Bank shows.

Red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis has generated considerable interest for its potential to significantly reduce methane emissions from livestock, but until now there has been little understanding of the capital requirements needed for successful large scale, commercial production.

AgriFutures Australia, General Manager Business Development, Michael Beer said Asparagopsis farming was still in its infancy with no large-scale production currently in Australia.

The co-funded report by AgriFutures and CBA Scoping study of the capital requirements for commercial production of Asparagopsis for methane reduction in cattle is based on data obtained from key stakeholders involved with research or commercialisation.

The research shows that if the diet of livestock included just 0.4% Asparagopsis, methane emissions could be reduced by up to 98%.

Further that the estimated capital required to establish an Asparagopsis supply chain at 100% adoption ranges between $132 million and $1.62 billion.

“With greater control over the operating environment including water quality, temperature and harvesting frequency, within a terrestrial aquaculture system, it could become the dominant production system for Asparagopsis,” Mr Beer said.

“Terrestrial aquaculture systems are likely to have quite different establishment and ongoing cost structures to ocean-based ones. Scale will undoubtedly drive down the costs of establishing and operating these facilities.”

Commonwealth Bank General Manager Agribusiness, Carmel Onions, said Asparagopsis could be a significant contributor to the Australian red meat and livestock industry’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Cattle make up a key segment of Australian agriculture and are our largest agricultural export,” Ms Onions said. “The sustainable development of the livestock industry is recognised as an important part of the solution to address the complex challenges of sustainable food production to feed a rising global population.

“Commonwealth Bank is committed to the transition to net zero emissions by 2050 and is proud to support research that drives innovation by Australian farmers and the agricultural sector to develop new techniques in sustainable farming.”

Read the final report: Scoping study of the capital requirements for commercial production of Asparagopsis for methane reduction in cattle

 

 

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