The reduction results were part of the first commercial trial in the US using the red seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, on a dairy farm.
Straus Family Creamery founder and CEO Albert Straus received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to conduct the trial on his California organic dairy farm. This is the largest and longest study of the red seaweed supplement for dairy cows.
The enteric methane emissions of 24 cows on the farm were tested four times a day to determine the impact of adding roughly one-quarter pound of red seaweed each day to their regular 45-pound diet for a total of 50 days in August and September. During the trial, enteric methane emissions were reduced an average of 52%, and as much as 90%. Five metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions were averted in seven weeks from these 24 cows.
Enteric fermentation is responsible on average for 35% of total US on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from dairy cows and the production of their feed supply. Cows belch methane gas as a normal part of the digestive process. But methane is a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than CO2. A productive Holstein cow burps about the same emissions as one car’s tailpipe, roughly one ton of CO2e every three months.
“If we can get up to 90% reduction in methane emissions through feeding red seaweed to cows, this is a huge leap forward for us in creating a sustainable farming system that is beneficial to the planet and our communities,” Straus Family Creamery's founder Albert Straus said.
“Red seaweed is also the next critical step we need to reach our carbon-neutral farming model goal in 2023 on the Straus Dairy Farm. This model will demonstrate that dairy farming and animals are one of the essential climate change solutions we need while providing high-quality organic food.”
California is the number one milk producer in the US and is responsible for the most dairy farm emissions. The state must reduce dairy methane by 40% over 2013 levels by 2030 to meet its climate goals.
“Red seaweed immediately and radically drops enteric methane emissions –and an immediate and radical solution is what the planet needs right now,” said Joan Salwen, co-founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Barns.
“We need to install electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country and replace coal plants with cleaner energy. But the Blue Ocean Barns seaweed solution is ready right now, it goes to work on climate change immediately, and it is economical.”