Aquaculture for all

Startup develops alternative to seaweed to reduce farming's methane emissions

Biotechnology Climate change Aquatic plants +4 more

A startup developing alternatives to Asparagopsis seaweed that can reduce methane emissions from livestock such as cattle has been launched in Western Australia.

Rumin8 is producing an alternative to Asparagopsis seaweed - which can significantly reduce methane emissions from livestock - in its laboratories

© Australian Seaweed Institute

Rumin8 says that it identifies naturally occurring compounds that have anti-methanogenic properties and instead of harvesting and extracting them from plants, is able to reproduce them in a low cost and scalable process to feed to livestock in order to reduce their emissions.

According to a press release, the Perth-based startup's “most advanced product reproduces the bioactive contained in red seaweed (Asparagopsis) and has been shown to reduce methane production in livestock rumen by up to 95 percent, whether in liquid, solid or slow-release dose formats”.

Rumin8 also expects that its products will have significant productivity benefits for farmers, as energy normally lost to methane production is instead converted into higher growth rates.

Rumin8 managing director David Messina said the laboratory results of their lead product replicated the methane reductions of red seaweed (Asparagopsis), but instead of harvesting from the marine ecosystem, the key bioactive was manufactured and transformed into a stable feed supplement in a lab.

“This breakthrough provides Rumin8 with the ability to develop a scaleable, consistent, cost-effective livestock supplements, which are inspired by nature, but have the potential to decarbonize the global livestock industry while providing productivity benefits,” Messina said.

“The identification of Asparagopsis’s anti-methanogenic properties was a game changer in terms of reducing methane emissions from ruminants. Rumin8’s product will be able to be produced in a consistent, repeatable, manufacturing process which will be effective at reducing methane production and is expected to be significantly cheaper to produce and provide much more reliable dosing and outcomes,” he added.

Livestock contribute around 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through methane created during the food digestion process.

Trials of Rumin8’s first product at the University of Western Australia reduced methane production by more than 90 percent by Day 3, with almost total elimination by Day 5. The trials were also used to identify optimal dosing rates to achieve the required reductions in methane emissions.

“We acknowledge the diversity of farming systems used to grow animals does prove a challenge for methane reduction which has proven difficult to solve. We are developing a range of formulations which can be delivered to both feedlot and grazing animals,” said Messina.

Rumin8 is now partnering with the University of Western Australia, University of Melbourne and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to assess the repeatability of the laboratory trials in animal trials in 2022.

“We have every confidence that just as we were able to replicate the success in the lab, we can do the same with our field trials,” Messina said.

“We’re also confident that there will be productivity benefits – increased growth rates or milk production – for farmers who use Rumin8 products. It would be an optimal outcome if Rumin8’s products to reduce methane emissions from livestock and are paid for through productivity gains,” he added.

Rumin8 has also commenced early-stage laboratory trials of several additional, naturally derived, anti-methanogenic products to test their effectiveness. Those trials are continuing.