Feeding cows seaweed instead of their regular fodder reduces the release of toxic methane into the atmosphere.
Reported first by CNBC, this is according to a new study conducted by the University of New Hampshire. Regular food of cows involving barley, oats and corn was replaced for microalgae and the result was a 20 percent reduction in the toxic gas released by the cows in the form of farts or burps.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe, methane is over 80 times as potent as CO2 in the atmosphere and 25 percent of all methane comes from cows.
The seaweed was sourced from the Gulf of Maine, which is home to over 250 species of it, some of which grows off the West Coast of the U.S. and Europe. The seaweed is being harvested and analysed by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.
According to the researchers, their emphasis was to reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, while not impacting milk production. But they found that seaweed would actually improve the performance as it would make them burp or fart less, which means more of their energy could be channelled for milk and beef production.
And even though seaweed exists for farms in the coastal areas, transporting that to farms that are landlocked would make the original premise of reducing emissions moot. To avoid that, they’re working on species that can be cultivated or farmed, as opposed to wild-harvested to ensure a sustainable move.
Nichole Price, a senior research scientist at Bigelow said in a conversation with CNBC, “When we start talking about the Midwest or the centre of the country, that’s where we think that the microalgae solution would be most relevant because you can scale up production of micro-algae right where the farm action is happening as well.”
What do you think about this study? Time to feed cows all over the world with nutritious seaweed? Let us know in the comments below, and keep reading Indiatimes.com for the latest science and technology news.