Innovation That Matters

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Using seaweed to tackle methane emissions from cattle

Agriculture & Energy

A seaweed extract could help cattle release less methane while allowing them to use the energy in their food more efficiently

Spotted: Methane expelled from livestock constitutes as much as 32 per cent of all anthropogenic methane emissions. These harmful emissions are caused by the vast number of domestic cattle and sheep and the way that these ruminants digest food in their four-chambered stomach, which is home to a complex system of microorganisms – combined these can produce around 200 litres of methane a day.

Australian startup Rumin8 has developed a potential solution in the form of feed additives that use extracts from seaweed to reduce the amount of methane released. The extracts are naturally occurring compounds with anti-methanogenic properties, meaning that they reduce the amount of methane in the stomachs of ruminants. The company says that trials have demonstrated an 85 per cent or greater methane reduction when using the product.

The company claims that the reduction in methane also allows the conversion of “otherwise lost energy into increased productivity for the animal,” improving farmers’ bottom line. Rumin8’s feed additives are created in an efficient, low-cost, and scalable process. The startup is working on several different formulations that can be used depending on the predominant feed – whether the ruminants are rangeland grazing cattle or grain-fed cattle.

Rumin8 recently closed Phase 2 of its seed funding round, led by Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The $12 million raised (around €11.2 million) will be used to accelerate Rumin8’s road to commercialisation.

The huge volume of methane emitted by livestock – and its impact on global warming – has not escaped the notice of agricultural innovators. Springwise has spotted other developments, which include a vaccine to reduce livestock methane emissions, and a specially-formulated animal feed designed to reduce methane production.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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