A hungry, warming world
Around the world, an estimated 1.3 billion people rely on livestock such as cattle and sheep for their livelihoods. There is a significant need to increase the productivity of livestock production to help lift people out of economic and food poverty.
Livestock unfortunately bring with them a gassy problem. Methane, primarily from burps is a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Around 15 per cent of the world's entire total of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock production, and in Australia the contribution of methane emissions from ruminant livestock is approaching 10 per cent of total greenhouse emissions.
This double threat of a growing population and rising greenhouse gas emissions risks destabilising communities and requires an urgent response that can be implemented rapidly and inexpensively.
A sea-based land solution
Our scientists have collaborated with Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University to develop a cost-effective seaweed feed ingredient called FutureFeed, which uses a type of seaweed, native to Australia that significantly reduces their methane emissions and has potential to increase livestock productivity.
When just a handful of the Asparagopsis seaweed is fed to cattle, it not only drastically reduces the greenhouse gas contribution from agriculture but there is also a strong indication it increases livestock productivity.
The Asparagopsis species of seaweed produces a bioactive compound called bromoform, which prevents the formation of methane by inhibiting a specific enzyme in the gut during the digestion of feed.
In August 2020, CSIRO established the FutureFeed company to take the livestock feed to market with investment from AGP Sustainable Real Assets-Sparklabs Cultiv8 Joint Venture, GrainCorp, Harvest Road, Woolworths Group and CSIRO.
FutureFeed Pty Ltd will develop a value chain from seaweed cultivation and production through to processing and feed manufacture to supply livestock producers in Australia and internationally. The company will license seaweed growers in Australia, and around the world to secure the ongoing delivery of high quality seaweed, building the certified trade mark and the standards that underpin it to build trust and credibility in the new industry, explore market options for monetising the carbon benefits, and continue to support ongoing research and development. FutureFeed will also work to establish partnerships in order to develop global markets.
Cheaper, greener, better
If just 10 per cent of global ruminant producers adopted FutureFeed as an ingredient to feed their livestock, it would have the same impact for our climate as removing 100 million cars from the world's roads, and potential increases in livestock productivity could create enough food to feed an additional 23 million people.
In December 2020 FutureFeed was awarded the Food Planet Prize for its benefits to the climate and environment, while also having the potential to improve profits and livelihoods by opening up a new global industry in seaweed farming.
FutureFeed has issued licenses to seaweed growers which enables supply of Asparagopsis to the livestock market. There are currently three licensees in Australia: CH4Global, Sea Forest and SeaStock.
Commercial sale and supply of Asparagopsis to cattle producers began in 2022 via CH4Global.
For more information
Visit the FutureFeed website