An Australian professor of aquaculture and his team have been studying the effects of seaweed on cow burps, which are the main source of methane production in our delicious bovine friends.
They discovered adding a small amount of dried seaweed to a cow's diet can reduce the amount of methane a cow produces by up to 99 per cent.
Specifically, one species of red seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, does the trick. And by "small amount", they mean small: 2% of the cow's feed. The dried seaweed can be sprinkled into the feed just as mineralized salt and other nutrients are.
Mr De Nys said trials would be underway at the CSIRO Lansdown facility near Townsville until mid-next year to analyse the effects seaweed could have on cattle production.
"We will feed animals and measure more carefully how the seaweed affects both the production of methane and any increase in weight gain in those animals," he said.
Problem: getting enough seaweed to add to the diets of millions of cows. For that, they're going to need a lot of specialized aquaculture farms; you can't just go willy-nilly out onto the ocean, harvesting the stuff with gay abandon. But in southeast Asia they already farm millions of tons of seaweed annually, so it can be done. It'll take a lot of money to set up, both the farming end and the drying and packaging facilities, but it can be done.
And since sheep and cattle produce most of the methane in agricultural endeavors, they're promising targets for gas reduction. On the other hand, the largest animal source of methane on the planet comes from termites.
Next step: developing billions of tiny butt-plugs and fitting each termite with one....