Livestock farmers could feed cattle algae new research has found

Feeding cattle algae is set to be the next big cost-saver for livestock farmers. Protein-rich microalgae could be grown on-farm in future, powered by solar, significantly cutting costs and making farm systems more independent,… according to scientists.

And, huge amounts of freshwater are not needed to produce the livestock-ready feed. Brackish or even saltwater can be used to grow it, with fertiliser used for nutrition for the algae.

Research sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia and conducted by the University of Queensland has led to the development of an on-farm algae growing prototype in Queensland, unveiled last week.

The Algae Energy Farm is an off-grid 250,000-litre demonstration at UQ’s Pinjarra Hills campus.

Lead researcher Professor Peer Schenk said the farm showed algae could be grown easily in Australian conditions without competing for arable land needed for food production.

It would also give livestock producers another protein-rich feed supplement during dry times when pasture quality was poor.

“Microalgae would help with management of prolonged dry conditions, such as those affecting much of Queensland (now),” Prof Schenk said.

“The challenge is to develop technology that can be readily and cost-effectively applied on beef properties as a ‘homegrown’ source of high-quality protein feed.”

Prof Schenk said he was driven to research algae because it was one way to help tackle the globe’s growing food security challenge.

He said the world needs to produce 70 per cent more food by 2050 to match demand from a booming global population.

Algae production could have many applications, he said, such as producing an energy-efficient livestock feed and biodiesel.

Growing livestock feed in algae farms also freed up arable land to grow food for people, instead of feed for livestock, Prof Schenk said.

The new technology, which was now “farm ready” for large scale commercialisation, was equally suitable for southern and northern farmers, he said.


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