We use state-of-the-art equipment and high-throughput protocols in our research. In the Bigelow Laboratory Analytical Facilities, we’ve developed in vitro batch assays that mimic a rumen for rapid comparisons of algal candidates and use mass spectrometry to look for promising compounds. Members of our team at the University of Vermont conduct further testing in continuous fermenters to understand how algae-based additives impact the dynamic rumen microbiome, which is responsible for the methane production. The best algal candidates, some of which come from Bigelow Laboratory’s National Center for Marine Microbiota and Algae collection, are being developed as additives to be used in holistic animal feeding trials with dairy cows at partnering research farms at University of New Hampshire, Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, and William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute. These studies explore the supplements’ nutritional value and subsequent effects on methane burps, milk quality, and milk yields of individual cows, as well as the implications to manure and soil health for grazing and conventional herds.
We are also conducting economic analyses with partners at Colby College, Syracuse University, and University of Vermont to explore pragmatic entry points into the supply chain and cost-benefits of using seaweed feed supplements for organic and conventional dairy in New England. In parallel, Clarkson University is using life cycle assessments to evaluate the cradle-to-grave impact on greenhouse gas emissions of the most promising seaweed additive candidates, including impacts to manure quality and utility in anaerobic digestion or as fertilizer – to ensure the final products represent a net greenhouse gas reduction and true seafood-based solution.
The Coast to Cow to Consumer Project is Funded By:
- Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund
- USDA AFRI Sustainable Agriculture Systems Program
- USDA AFRI Organic Research and Extension Initiative