The environmental impact of dairy cows (i.e. ruminants) has received a lot of attention from society and the scientific community, primarily focusing on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ruminants account for a significant proportion of methane emissions due to their enteric fermentation.
Recent calculations indicate that 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents of agriculture's total greenhouse gas emissions of 8.5 million tonnes is produced by ruminants. This means that it is clearly beneficial if methane production from ruminants can be reduced. In recent years, attempts have been made to develop strategies to reduce emissions, but practical, applicable solutions have been few. Some feed additives such as monensin have been effective, but are banned within the EU. Other supplements like plants and plant extracts are to expensive when feeding in full scale, or other supplements might impair health status of both animals and people who consume their products.
The tropical algae Asparagopsis taxiformis has unique properties for reducing methane emissions from ruminants. However, importing or cultivating a tropical algae is not a sustainable strategy to reduce the climate impact from agriculture. Algae around Sweden's coast is likely to have equivalent potential to reduce methane emissions. In SEAFEED, we want to map this potential and estimate the outcome of an economically sustainable production of algae as a feed supplement to reduce the climate impact of agriculture.