Using Alge to Improve Ag Sustainability

Joanna Schroeder

Agriculture often gets a bad wrap on the sustainability scale but growers know that they aren’t going to jeopardize their livehoods and they are great stewards of the land. But for those growers who are still looking for some unique ways to be a little “greener” with their operations, they should consider algae.

Kent Bioenergy has its roots in aquaculture. The company was a pioneer in fish farms and needed a way to clean the water. Enter algae. Over time, the company has discovered how to harvest the algae and the co-products can be used for a variety of things depending on where the nutrients came from to grow the algae.

For example, Barry Toyonaga, Ph.D. who is the Chief Business Officer for the company, explained that they have been working with growers and livestock, dairy and hog producers to use algae as a way to reduce normal agricultural run-off.

Most of the waste is unused fertilizer coming straight off farm land and so if our algae is just recapturing the used fertilizer, and we’re harvesting that algae, its really a renewable resource for fertilizer,” explained Toyonaga.

What is especially interesting about using algae to capture run-off is that the agriculture industry is being criticized for causing “Dead Zones” in the ocean, areas where marine life cannot be supported due to depleted oxygen levels. Integrating algae can reduce this run-off, and help to remove the criticism that agriculture is causing this problem. It’s also beneficial for the grower because once the algae is harvested, it can be “reused” on the farm as an organic fertilizer, reducing costs and reducing another common criticism launched against agriculture – using fossil-fuel based inputs.

Toyonaga truly believes that his company is on to something and they are trying to interest both the agricultural community and the USDA in the technology. So if you’re a grower who is open to trying something new, considering reaching out to Kent Bioenergy.

To learn more about how integrating algae into your farm or livestock operations, listen to my interview with Barry here. Barry Toyonaga interview

You can also view photos from my San Diego Algae Tour here.

Aquaculture, Audio, Biodiesel, Livestock, Sustainability