Cows fed small amount of seaweed burp 86% less methane: Study

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Mar 18, 2021, 09:54 PM(IST)

Cow Photograph:( AFP )

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A recent study published in Plos One shows that when researchers who put a small amount of seaweed into the feed of cattle over the course of five months found that the new diet caused the bovines to belch out 82 per cent less methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere

Scientists have detected that feeding seaweed to cows is a viable method to reduce methane emissions responsible for causing global warming.

A recent study published in Plos One shows that when researchers who put a small amount of seaweed into the feed of cattle over the course of five months found that the new diet caused the bovines to belch out 82 per cent less methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Earlier, a study published by Stanford University had shown cow belches produce a lot of methane. 

Livestock production, particularly ruminants, contributes to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. These emissions are estimated to be 7.1 Gt carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents annually which accounts for approximately 14.5 per cent of the global anthropogenic GHG emissions.

The majority of GHG emissions from livestock production is in the form of methane (CH4), which is produced largely through enteric fermentation and to a lesser extent manure decomposition. 

Therefore, reducing enteric CH4 emissions decreases the total agricultural contribution to climate change and can improve productivity through conservation of feed energy. There is potential for mitigation of enteric CH4 emissions through a variety of approaches with a focus on the use of feed additives, dietary manipulation and forage quality.

According to Ermias Kebreab, director of the World Food Center and an agricultural scientist at the University of California, “We now have sound evidence that seaweed in cattle diet is effective at reducing greenhouse gases and that the efficacy does not diminish over time.” 

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