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$5M R&D for grazing livestock to cut methane emissions

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Asparagopsis seaweed is expected to be a key part of the reduction strategy to help the Australian Government meet a pledge to to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

Black cattle grazing in a paddock at the foot of some forested hills
Research will investigate how to feed methane-reducing supplements to grazing cattle. Photo: Finn Whelen, Unsplash

The Australian Government will join a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 to help keep rising global temperatures within the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Methane emissions from livestock are the largest source of greenhouse gas in the agriculture sector and make up around 10% of Australia’s total annual emissions.

Seaweed supplements for livestock are expected to be a key part of the reduction strategy, with the government also announcing $5 million in grants supporting R&D for low-emissions feed supplements for grazing animals.

Asparagopsis has been found to reduce methane emissions in livestock by 80% and as much as 98% according to some supplement producers. Leading the development of Asparagopsis production in Australia are FutureFeed, which holds the patents and licensing rights to the technology, seaweed producers CH4 Global, Sea Forest and SeaStock, and the integrated food business and cattle company Harvest Road.

While R&D of low-emissions feed technology for livestock has scaled up in recent years, production and adoption of these supplements remain challenging, especially in grazing systems (rather than feedlot), which accounts for 95% of Australian livestock.

The new R&D funding comes in addition to $8 million for the seaweed industry to support commercialisation of the livestock feed supplement Asparagopsis.

The 11 successful projects will receive between $250, 000 and $700,000 each under Stage 2 of the Government’s $29 million Methane Emissions Reduction in Livestock (MERiL) Program.

The successful applicants include:

  • Sea Forest ($383,657), in partnership with Dickson Ag, Ruminati, Australian Agricultural Company and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment, will develop and assess feed supplements to deliver methane reduction from compounds in Asparagopsis oil.

  • University of Melbourne ($340,818), in partnership with Endhill, Feedworks, Rumin8, The Product Makers, Gretals Australia and Seascape Restorations Australia, will test different delivery mechanisms (such as Lucerne, liquid feeds, loose licks and lick blocks) for a variety of methane-reducing feed supplements in grazing animals and measure emissions reduction, productivity gains and potential low-emission supplement residues in animal products.

  • The Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia ($695,909), in partnership with DIT Agtech, Rumin8, Feedworks, Australian Wool Innovation and The University of Western Australia, will adapt and evaluate a range of existing systems to deliver methane-reducing feed additives to grazing sheep.

  • The University of New England ($603,050), in partnership with Feedworks will develop a novel paddock solution to deliver methane-reducing supplements to grazing sheep.

  • The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions ($615,000), in partnership with Terragen Biotech and Fonterra Co-operative Group, will evaluate automated feeding of a methane-mitigating probiotic to grazing lambs and dairy cows.

  • Mort and Co. Lot Feeders ($367,186), in partnership with CSIRO, MultiCube, AACO and DSM Nutritional Products Australia, will demonstrate delivery of the methane-reducing feed additive 3-NOP in the form of a fodder cube for grazing animals.

  • Direct Injection Systems ($367,219), in partnership with Central Queensland University and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, will build on their existing water injection technology for delivering feed supplements to incorporate methane-reducing compounds for reducing emissions in livestock grazing systems.

  • Mort and Co. Lot Feeders ($387,667), will demonstrate the feasibility of a holistic technology solution for feeding nitrates to grazing cattle for methane reduction.

  • Loam Bio ($653,750) will deliver a cost-effective, scalable, adaptable and highly resilient low-emission feed supplement for grazing animals.

  • Macquarie University ($324,864), in partnership with Ternes Scientific and 4 Season Company, will test low-cost and naturally sourced methane-reducing substances for incorporation into lick blocks for grazing livestock.

  • Department of Regional NSW ($250,000), in partnership with Australian Wool Innovation, will evaluate the feasibility of using radio frequency identification technologies to improve methane-reduction supplement design and delivery in grazing sheep and test the use of common delivery systems such as lick feeders.

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