SEASOLUTIONS - Seaweeds and seaweed-ingredients to reduce enteric methane emissions from pasture-based sheep, cattle and dairy cows

Aim of the project

To investigate the potential of seaweed to mitigate GHG emissions and gain a fundamental understanding of mechanism of action, effects of nutritional composition of meat and milk, whilst investigating economic viability.


Our aim is to recommend adequate policy instruments (incentives or regulations) that can be used to secure implementation of the recommended animal diet management outcomes of SEASOLUTIONS, based on assessment of the meta-data collected from in vitro and animal trials and rumen microbiota characterisation experiments. SEASOLUTIONS will deliver socio-economic benchmark data for such policies.

What: SEASOLUTIONS will investigate the potential of native, harvested seaweeds to reduce enteric methane emissions from sheep, beef and dairy cattle. It will help to gain a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of action of methane reduction in the rumen; effects on animal health and foods produced and the economic, economic viability of using seaweed components to reduce methane emissions.

Why: The drive to become more efficient is viable and well in the food industry and this trend has been altered in recent years by the challenge of making our advancements more environmentally friendly. Meat and dairy production have become targets of much scrutiny and blame in the charge against global warming. By 2050, the EU aims to cut its emissions by 80-95%. Livestock are responsible for 44 % of all methane emissions and methane has 36 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Recent research in Australia demonstrated that feeding the seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis to sheep at 2% the dry weight of feed resulted in 50- 70% less methane release over a 72-day period continuously.

Where: The research is been done in nine leading research institutes spread over Ireland, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Germany and UK.

Main project activities

To develop novel, science-based, and implementable approaches to reduce methane emissions from sheep, beef cattle and dairy cows through seaweed additions to animal diets.

To explore more futuristic options (e.g.; development of seaweed feeds from seaweeds produced through aquaculture pond systems) based on emerging knowledge and technologies and by monitoring rumen pH and methane emissions using sensor technologies and capture of this data from animal trials using ICT technologies.

To harvest and preserve native, sustainable seaweeds, in sufficient quantities (600 kg-1000 kg dry weight) for use as ingredients/raw material for animal feed development through implementation of drying, ensiling and novel technologies (High pressure processing, accelerated solvent extraction).

To characterise and select native seaweeds for in vitro and animal trials based on their bioactive and safety profiles. The constituent composition of selected seaweeds will be quantified in terms of their peptide, phlorotannin, bacteriocin, bromoform, lipid and small molecule content using chromatography, mass spectrometry and 1H-NMR methods.

To evaluate effects of seaweeds on total methane gas production using different in vitro rumen fluid models and animal trials. This has not been tested stringently in animal experiments with seaweeds other than Asparagopsis sp. which is not abundantly available (in sufficient quantities) in Europe. ICT technologies will be used in trials where sensors will be used to capture rumen pH, methane emissions and other data which will be captured and analysed using ICT methods.

 To examine the positive nutritional contributions of algae in the diets of sheep, cattle and dairy cows and the impact on milk and meat.

To understand the mechanisms of action evoked by seaweed inclusion in the diets of sheep, beef cattle and cows in terms of the underlying role of the rumen microbiome. We will use rRNA taxonomy approaches to monitor bacterial and eukaryotic differences post feeding of seaweed i.e Who is possibly responsible? as well as monitoring functional differences using meatgaenomics and metatranscriptomics i.e Which genes are possibly involved.

 To explore novel options for methane reduction and to develop feed ingredients (pellets, licks and flakes) for use by farmers to reduce emissions and improve animal health and nutritional efficiency.

Concept and approach

Seaweed preservation and characterisation, in vitro simulated rumen studies and animal scientific experiments make up the backbone of the project. These experiments will produce the data to: 1) Process description with regard to the effect of seaweeds on enteric methane emissions; 2) Assess management options with respect to enteric methane emission control.

Project consortium

Coordinated by: Dr. Maria Hayes, Agriculture and Food Development Authority, TEAGASC, (Ireland)

  • NORWAY: Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, NIBIO and SINTEF AS, SINTEF
  • CANADA: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, AAFC
  • SWEDEN: Department of Agricultural Sciences for Northern Sweden, SLU
  • GERMANY: Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, FLI
  • UNITED KINGDOM: Queen's University Belfast, QUB and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, AFBI
  • IRELAND: Institute of Technology Sligo, ITS

More information

Presentations and posters

Research articles