Cultivation of macroalgae
Sustainable large-scale cultivation of macroalgae in Sweden
Photo: Göran Nylund
In global terms, cultivation of macroalgae is the fastest growing sector within aquaculture, but despite good natural conditions (cold, nutrient-rich waters), it is relatively underdeveloped in Sweden. AquaAgri is seeking to identify how to develop sustainable large-scale cultivation of macroalgae in Sweden.
Cultivation of macroalgae has many advantages over land-based biomass production. Macroalgae grow faster than terrestrial plants and are therefore more efficient at capturing carbon dioxide. In addition, cultivation in the sea does not require fertiliser, pesticides or irrigation and does not occupy valuable arable land. Instead, the nutrients in coastal waters are utilised and by using macroalgae for food feed and fertiliser, a link to agriculture can be established.
In this project, researchers are studying cultivation of sweet kelp (Saccharina latissima), a species of brown algae that occurs naturally off the west coast of Sweden. Sweet kelp can be used in food and animal feed and potentially also to produce bioethanol, biogas and bioplastics.
Kelp harvesting. Photo: Anna Pavia, Henrik Pavia
The researchers are seeking to develop cultivation methods, identify varieties suitable for cultivation, with good growth and a tolerance for slightly higher summer temperatures, and create a ‘seedbank’ of these varieties. They are also testing a cultivation method where the algae are grown on metre-wide lengths of textile attached to buoys out at sea. Cultivation depth is being examined by testing submerged cultures at 2-4 m depth, which would be beneficial in minimising the risk of conflicts with pleasure boats.
The project is also examining environmental aspects such as biological diversity and uptake of nutrients and aims to conduct socioeconomic sustainability analyses, including new employment opportunities and business development.
FACTS ON THE PROJECT
Name: Henrik Pavia, Göteborgs Universitet
Funding: SEK 15.7 million
Find out more about Henrik’s work