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Methane from cow burps and farts is a big contributor to climate change — feeding them seaweed may help

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Methane is a major contributor to global heating, and cows produce a lot of it. There may, however, be a way to reduce all that gas: seaweed.

On a research farm at the University of New Hampshire, scientists are feeding cows seaweed in an attempt to reduce the amount of methane they produce.

“We observed a reduction in methane up to 20%,” said Andre Brito, associate professor of dairy cattle nutrition and management at UNH. “And 20% is a start. We are exploring different types of seaweeds, and the goal is to use locally produced seaweeds.”

Methane is more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe , although it breaks down more quickly. And about 25% of all methane is produced directly from fermentation by cows. The burps are actually worse than the farts.

The seaweed comes from the Gulf of Maine, which boasts more than 250 different species, some of which also grow off the West Coast of the U.S. and in Europe. It is essentially a giant repository to look for potential solutions.It is being harvested and studied by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, which […]

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