Innovation in Seaweed Farming to Combat Climate Change

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Innovation in Seaweed Farming to Combat Climate Change

Sunshiki Co., a startup company, is revolutionizing seaweed farming by using a new technology to cultivate Asparagopsis taxiformis, a red alga species that has demonstrated the ability to reduce methane gas emissions produced by cattle. The team of researchers from Kochi University, led by oceanic botany professor Masanori Hiraoka, discovered that adding this seaweed to cattle's diets can lead to a drastic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from the animals' belches. This innovation has the potential to address a significant environmental issue, as methane's greenhouse effect is 28 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, and ruminant animals like cattle contribute about 5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The cultivation process of the red alga involves collecting spores from the seabed, which are then cultured and grown through specific techniques to increase the volume exponentially in a short period. The success of this method, presented at a conference held by the Japanese Society of Phycology, caught the attention of Sunshiki's founder, Ryo Kubota, who recognized the business potential and environmental impact of utilizing seaweed to reduce methane emissions. Partnering with Yuya Watanabe, a member of Hiraoka's lab, Sunshiki aims to market a food supplement containing the red alga to help mitigate methane emissions from livestock, with a projected market scale of 300 billion yen by 2030. The company is currently conducting verification tests in Kochi Prefecture and expects to have the product commercially available as early as next year.