Australians are trying to stop cows farting methane to save the planet

Australian scientists are trying to help save the planet – by stopping cattle from farting out quite so much methane.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide. And it’s particularly prevalent in cow farts.

So scientists at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have developed FutureFeed, an additive made from a red seaweed called asparagopsis.

Adding a small amount of the dried seaweed to cattle feed can reduce cows’ methane production by 80 per cent.

It has another benefit, too. Cows use up a lot of energy converting food into methane, so by using FutureFeed instead, farmers will see their cattle grow faster.

The seaweed grows in water around Australian and other countries, with farms springing up in Tasmania, Sweden, Vietnam and California.

More than 20% of the world’s entire total of greenhouse gas emissions comes from livestock production. In Australia the contribution of methane emissions from livestock is around 10% of total greenhouse emissions.

Methane emissions have been rising since the industrial revolution. Most is from natural sources, such as wetlands and geological seepage, but humanity’s share is estimated to account for 30 to 45 percent of the total.

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