SEAWEED could be a game changer for the state's livestock industry as an innovative stock feed, if trials in SA to grow it commercially are successful.
The state government has partnered with CH4 South Australia, the first commercial seaweed operator, and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to investigate the potential of producing commercial quantities of red seaweed.
They have committed $175,000 to trials at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre in West Beach into production systems and ways to optimise the performance of seaweed.
CH4 estimates red seaweed could be worth $140 million annually within three years, with a further $250m a year in revenue.from processing.
The potential to develop a multi-billion dollar future-proofed aquaculture industry is a unique opportunity for SA and this will move the needle on global climate change.
Acting Primary Industries Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said innovative stock feed options were always welcome, especially so in times of drought.
When included in feed, seaweed has been found to significantly reduce methane created during the digestion process.
"If there are opportunities to cost-effectively reduce ruminant methane production by converting it into energy to drive enhanced animal productivity, this represents a win-win," he said.
"The livestock farming sector is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas globally after the energy and transport sectors, so this work could be a game-changer for the environment as well."
The research could position SA as a "centre for excellence" for seaweed production and employ up to 1200 people.
"The seaweed market reaches far beyond feeding cattle, as seaweed can be used as a sustainable food source for humans and in ecofriendly bio-plastics, fertilizer, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals," Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
CH4 co-founder Steve Meller, who grew up in SA and now lives in Silicon Valley in the United States, said he was excited for the potential for this project to give back to SA.
"The potential to develop a multi-billion dollar future-proofed aquaculture industry is a unique opportunity for SA and this will move the needle on global climate change," Dr Meller said.
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