Lowering methane emissions from
livestock while increasing yields

The Story

Our story starts on Prince Edward island in Canada, back in 2006 when a local farmer noticed that his stock had been grazing on the kelp that washed up on his coastal farm. Curiously, his cows not only enjoyed the seaweed, they seemed to gain weight more quickly.  So he began introducing the kelp as a regular part of their feed. The results were encouraging, his herd readily accepted the kelp, gave better yields and were more fertile while the frequency of mastitis and other diseases was reduced. Encouraged by the results, he reached out to Ag scientist Rob Kinley who jumped at the chance to find out more. His early research quickly established that seaweed wasn’t just producing better outcomes for the cattle, it was reducing their methane emissions by as much as twenty percent.  Intrigued at what he discovered, he knew that other seaweeds could potentially have even better results. With that in mind he began a research project with the CSIRO and James Cook university in the far North of Australia’s Queensland. A research facility beside the Great Barrier Reef where he had the opportunity to test a range of seaweeds as cattle feed to see if he could replicate the findings in a scientific setting. What he discovered confirmed the Canadian farmer’s observations. Not only were the feeds well received by the stock, they delivered better yields with reduced methane outputs. But the true surprise arrived with one particular variety of seaweed.

Asparagopsis, a genus of red algae, had the extraordinary ability to reduce methane production in cattle by as much as 99%. It was found to contain a high amount of bromoform that was particularly well suited to reducing methane production in the gut of ruminant animals. Better yet, this result was achieved by adding as little 0.4% of asparagopsis to the total feed. The implications were profound.  Cattle are agriculture’s leading contributor of greenhouse gases. The ability to reduce those emissions by such a significant amount would have ramifications across the entire industry.

Here was an extraordinary opportunity to create lasting change in one of the world’s most carbon intensive sectors.  The problem of global warming can’t be solved by simply turning off demand. We need to find solutions in the supply chain with a rapid shift to more sustainable methods of production if we’re able to meet the current goals set out in the Glasgow COP 26 conference.

CleanEyre Global, seeing the extraordinary opportunity that Asparagopsis offered the sector, began investigating the best possible way of cultivating this seaweed at scale.  We were looking for the most efficient route to practical application by taking advantage of existing technologies and infrastructure within a location that was ideally suited to the Asparagopsis lifecycle. We understood that the best way to turn this “magic bullet” into genuine, sustainable change was to bring the benefits to market at scale in an easily implemented product that was at a price point which made its wide scale adoption the smart choice.

There are two main varieties of Asparagopsis, Armata which grows in temperate waters and Taxiformis which prefers tropical and subtropical waters.  There’s only one place in the world where both varieties grow. South Australia’s Eyre peninsula. As France’s “Burgundy” region is to wine, the Eyre Peninsula is to seaweed cultivation, a location that offers the high salinity, high calcium waters that Asparagopsis thrive in. There could be no better environment for researching cultivars of this algae. But what makes this place even more appealing was the large scale shellfish industry that had already put in place the infrastructure needed for the cultivation of algae. With hatchery facilities in Franklin Harbour and Coffin Bay, the opportunity to successfully propagate and access producers at scale led to the development of CleanEyre Global.

Recognising this as the very best possible place in the world to undertake this research, we established a facility for developing scalable techniques with commercial application with the first goal of finding
With ocean leases on a range of sites available our researchers have put in place relationships with suppliers that will be the first step in creating a sustainable Asparagopsis hatchery using techniques that are scalable and transferable. From there we want to ensure commercial quantities of product can be delivered for processing and supporting other ventures with hatchery spores that can be used in developing their own commercial operations that will in turn support our processing facility. Here the benefit of the Eyre peninsula comes into play as a home to both the tropical and temperate varieties of Asparagopsis, which means we’ll be able to produce cultivar stock for the entire world.
We now find ourselves in an extraordinary position. Asparagopsis offers the opportunity of not only reducing methane outputs to near zero, it also offers increased yields as a feed optimizer as well as promoting gut health. So farmers will know that their hard work in producing meat and dairy is not only putting food on the table, it is protecting the earth from the harmful effects of climate change, at the same time as protecting the health of their herds. And with increased yields more than covering the cost of the supplement, they’re doing this at no cost with a host of benefits to animal welfare.