How timely that on the same week that the National Biological Farming Conference was held in Cairns, James Cook University released their breakthrough study proving that seaweed can reduce methane produced by cattle and thus global warming.
Farmers including many cattle producers from all over Australia converged on Cairns to learn how they can embrace the new age of biological food and fibre production and become part of the solution to saving the planet.
Biological farming is about putting Carbon back into the soil by bringing the soil's biomass back to life. At the NBFC farmers learnt how they can, over time, build their soil's good bacteria and capture carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere using natural inputs such as biochar, compost, cover crops and seaweed.
Seaweed contains substances that promote good bacteria, whether in the soil or in the cow's rumen. As the JCU study found, cows fed a seaweed supplement are able to make better use of protein in the feed and so reduce methane production. At the same time micronutrients contained in the seaweed supplement increase the ability of the beast to produce muscle which gives a heavier carcass and better returns for the farmer.
At Norway's seaweed research station they collected twin female calves, they lived in a stall and were given the same diet but one was supplemented with seaweed. Throughout their lives they were monitored for milk and health. They proved that cows fed seaweed live longer, give more and higher quality milk, have less disease and over their lifetime produce around 3 calves more than the un-supplemented sister...consistently.
Supplementing livestock with seaweed is a win-win for farmers and for the planet. It will be interesting to see how many farmers and station owners take it up. On the SBS TV programme "For The Love Of Meat" by presenter Matthew Evans the methane story was shown on Thursday 3rd Nov. at 7.30 in the evening. It was truly fascinating and well explained by JCU.
We all now know how urgent it is to reduce carbon and methane in the atmosphere but at the same time we all want to live and prosper. This seaweed breakthrough is proof that we can do both.
Farmers can supplement seaweed and feel good about doing their bit to reduce emissions while at the same time improving their bottom line.
It has to be a win for us all.
Blog post by Liz