The battle against greenhouse gas is about to take another step forward in South Australia.

Plans have been unveiled this week to build a new processing facility 200klms north of Adelaide, designed to create a seaweed-based feed supplement for cows which will reduce their methane production by 90 per cent.

The $90 million advanced processing facility will be built by a conglomerate involving Pirie Meats, with CH4 Global, Organic Technology Holdings and Siemens Australia involved.

Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas, but traps roughly 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide. It’s also contrary to popular opinion of which end of the cow produces the most methane, with over 95 percent emitting from the mouth, when cows burp.

In Australia, direct livestock emissions account for about 70% of greenhouse gas emissions by the agricultural sector and 11% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. This makes Australia’s livestock the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy and transport sectors.

The CSIRO research driving the new plant found that the red seaweed Asparagopsis mixed with regular cattle feed at a rate of 100 grams per cow per day reduced methane production by 90 per cent. CH4 has purchased a licence from the patent owners CSIRO and gained regulatory approval for the material to be allowed to sell it in Australia.

The patent joins a long list of CSIRO success stories, including vaccines, nutritional supplements, contact lenses and of course, WiFi.

Australian beef industry figures

The Australian beef industry alone contributes a total export value of AU$11.26 billion (US$8.23 billion) annually to the economy, with the value of the global meat sector valued at US$332.49 billion in 2020. The global dairy market worldwide was estimated to be about US$720 billion in 2019.

The move comes at a time when dedicated sustainable investing assets are expected to reach US$13 trillion globally by 2025. The rise in ESG assets available for investment has been supported by increased retail demand, heightened sustainability disclosure and market regulation, enabling sustainable investing assets to more than quadruple their end-2020 levels.

It’s estimated that by 2030, enhanced connectivity in agriculture could add more than $500 billion to global GDP. In the Federal Budget earlier this year, biosecurity, soil quality improvement and agtech featured heavily, showing a boost in agriculture and agtech is clearly on the national agenda.

And the sector is showing further signs of innovation to tap into these global opportunities.  AgriWebb is a digital livestock management platform which leverages data more effectively in an attempt to increase on-farm productivity, traceability and sustainability across the supply chain.

Queensland’s Cibo Labs is a data analytics company on a mission to bring an entirely new approach to monitoring Australia’s grazing lands, determining green cover and number of grazing days through remote sensing and machine learning.

Then there’s Farmbot, working with a farmer’s most precious resource. Their open source precision agriculture CNC farming project gives farmers visibility over their water assets with real time reporting on levels, trends and alerts anywhere in the world.

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