Pioneering Climate-Friendly Agriculture: Tasmania Invests $8.3 Million In Asparagopsis Commercialisation

11 May 2024

Tasmania's peak body for farmers, TasFarmers, today welcomes the announcement by the Tasmanian State Government that it will provide $4 million toward the commercialisation of Asparagopsis seaweed in Tasmania.

With a total project cost of $8.347 million, this initiative reflects a concerted effort to foster innovation and partnership between government and industry, signalling a pivotal step towards achieving real environmental benefits.

TasFarmers President Ian Sauer said the peak body was taking a lead role in a collaborative effort with industry partners to address climate change and reduce greenhouse emissions as part of its strategic plan.

Mr Sauer said, "This project is world-leading, as the Sea Forest Asparagopsis initiative holds international significance in its efforts to go from concept to commercialisation, positioning Tasmania as a leader in agricultural innovation.

"By focusing on methane reduction in cattle, the project aims to make a tangible difference in combating climate change, contributing to Tasmania's reputation as a clean and green region.

"Tasmania is punching well above its weight by developing greenhouse-reducing technology and reducing emissions in the production of red meat.

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"Sea Forest is leading the charge among other companies in this field. Their advancements match or surpass those of any competitor, and being Tasmanian adds to the significance.

"Originating from the East Coast of Tasmania, this natural product distinguishes itself as authentically Tasmanian, devoid of any synthetic elements," Mr Sauer highlighted.

TasFarmers collaborating with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), Fonterra, Annandale Dairy Farm, Sea Forest and Tasmanian feedlot AEON, will ensure this project gives Tasmania a significant advantage. The project brings together variety of stakeholders from across the supply chain, including farmers, industry, researchers, and government, in a collaborative effort to drive positive change in the agriculture sector.

Mr Sauer said," With a total of 24,000 head of cattle, spanning both dairy and feedlot operations, the impact will be significant. For farmers, this translates to the ability to market environmentally sustainable beef and dairy products.

"Tasmanian consumers can have confidence that they will be able to eat meat and dairy which is climate friendly.

"We can sit around and talk about what's happening with climate change, have meetings and undertake a lot of research, but this is actually doing something practical that is going to make a positive impact,” said Mr Sauer.

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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture director Mike Rose said: “The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) is proud to be part of this collaborative research project to facilitate the adoption and ongoing development of low emissions feed technologies in Tasmania.

“Research trials will take place at TIA’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott with a focus on measuring the effectiveness of low emission feed technologies, establishing feeding guidelines for current and future formulations, and supporting industry adoption.

“TIA will also contribute scientific knowledge and expertise to the project team, supporting the commercial trials that are focusing on feed efficiency gains, animal productivity, health outcomes, reproductive performance, and product quality.

“The project builds on previous TIA research that has focused on testing new products and identifying a system for administering in extensive grazing systems. Future research will involve measuring methane in the field”.

Fonterra, General Manager Sustainability Global Markets, Jack Holden said “Fonterra is pleased to be part of this project, which will enable us to expand our Asparagopsis red seaweed trial beyond the first 1,000 dairy cows in the 2024/25 milk season.

“Tasmania’s pasture-based farming system makes it an ideal location to undertake this trial. We thank the Tasmanian Government for its commitment to climate action and for building the capability of the Tasmania agriculture sector to be a leader in this challenge.

“We also want to acknowledge the work undertaken by Richard Gardner and his family at Annandale. Annandale is the first commercial dairy farm to undertake a trial at scale, and without Richard’s commitment to improving dairy farming’s emissions footprint, we would not be here today to launch this next stage.

“Fonterra’s objective has always been to validate red seaweed as a safe, effective and commercially sensible climate solution. This Government support will now allow the industry to learn faster and enable all partners to go to scale with confidence.”