Coast to Cow to Consumer

Rick Welsh (NFS) PI, Coast to Cow to Consumer: Marine Algae Use to Enhance Milk Production, Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Recover Nutrients, Colby College / USDA. 9/1/21-8/31/26

Optimizing agricultural productivity to sustainably meet rising global food demands requires innovative agricultural methods. Up to 12% of dietary gross energy may be lost through enteric methane (CH4) production, limiting cattle performance. Awareness that methanogenesis can be curtailed through diet has led to exploration of novel feed supplements. Some seaweed species have reduced CH4 emissions by ~67% in dairy cattle. CH4 reductions in dairy cattle were accompanied by increased milk production.

Further, opportunities to recycle nutrient-rich cattle waste streams into algal production systems, repurposing algae residues for fertilizer, altering manure composition, improving resource use efficiency, and strengthening alternative energy options, like biogas or anaerobic digesters, can reduce environmental impacts. The objectives of our program are to:

  • Demonstrate any nutritional and environmental benefits of algal blends in diets of dairy cattle.
  • Investigate the potential socioeconomic and environmental effects of linking algae and dairy production industries using life cycle assessment (LCA) and economic impact evaluation.
  • Identify roadblocks for incorporating algal products into dairy production systems as indicated.