September 14, 2020


US company to set up production of seaweed for feeding cattle in South Australia


US-based CH4 Global has announced its plan to grow and harvest seaweed in South Australia, with Kangaroo Island designated as one of three initial sites to kick-start the million-dollar climate project.

The initiative -- said to be the world's first of its kind --- will see the company process a species of seaweed as a supplement solution offered to dairy and beef cows. The seaweed would significantly cut down methane emissions from the animals.

The work will focus on "urgently impacting" climate change within the next decade.

CH4 SA general manager Dr. Adam Main said the company was implementing different strategies at the three locations.

At Port Lincoln, the company was working with aquaculture companies, as the town was already an industry hub with existing support infrastructure.

On the Yorke Peninsula, CH4 SA was working with Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation to set up a new aquaculture operation on land it controlled.

On Kangaroo Island, it is partnering with American River oyster farmer Ken Rowe of Kangaroo Island Shellfish. Rowe said CH4's plans aligns with his concept and business model of "positive impact aquaculture", which entailed his operation having a net social, environmental and financial benefit on the local community.

Both CH4 and KI Shellfish are advocating for integrated multi-trophic aquaculture or '3D' ocean farming where multiple species are grown together.

Dr. Main said the company intended to grow a specific species of seaweed, Asparagopsis armata, on rope lines suspended out in open water on existing aquaculture leases to begin with.

For the long-term, CH4 would seek to expand its operations to have more seaweed lines in even more open water, he said. The company could also scale up its operations in South Australia and New Zealand with a $3 million funding and start the aquaculture and processing of Asparagopsis armata in these regions.

Dr. Main added that recently-raised capital would mean delivering on the aim of developing trial sites in South Australia this year prior to commercial production.

Explaining the importance of Ch4's seaweed in cattle production, he explained: "Each year, over the next two decades, the greenhouse gas output for 1.5 billion cows is greater than the GHG (greenhouse gas) output from China - the largest GHG emitter by country in the world.

"When added to feed, less than 100 grams per day, the processed seaweed can reduce methane emissions from cattle by up to 90%."

The initial focus will address the market for dairy and beef cattle in Australia, New Zealand and California, the United States, which is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2030.

- Farmonline