Commercial algae farming is done in algae farms. This way the production process becomes economically viable. This process is described as algaculture, and it can involve growing a wide variety of species of algae. Macroalgae, such as seaweed, have commercial uses around the world and are now being researched as a potential feed source for the future. Microalgae farming is also a huge industry, and it’s only looking to continue to expand as more people understand the benefits of algae to our planet. Let’s discover why algae farming is so important and the different processes used in these farms.
Why Algae Is Important | Algae Farming for Food | Microalgae Farming
Why Algae Is Important
While algae in its traditional form in the water is part of a healthy marine ecosystem, it’s also an excellent feed solution for the future. Algae capture energy from the sun, water, and carbon dioxide and work to produce organic compounds. This maintains balance for the marine life that lives within our oceans. However, algae are now being considered a valuable addition to our human diet. It’s rich in dietary fiber and can even be higher in protein than grains and beans, which are consumed on a regular basis. On top of that, some algae also offer plenty of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Algae grow very fast on algae farms, especially when vertical algae farm technology is adopted. Spirulina is one of the best examples of healthy food that’s consumed by humans and animals. Animal feed also incorporates algae into its ingredients, but in the future, we expect the reliance on algae to increase exponentially. The good thing about algae is that the air, sun, and water help to cultivate it quickly, and algae in agriculture ensures that the majority of the water that’s used is also recycled. Algae produce between 30 and 50 percent of the global oxygen for humans and animals, so our planet simply wouldn’t function without it. It’s an incredible part of our ecosystem that should never be overlooked by individuals and farmers.
Algae Farming for Food
Algae farming for food involves vertical algae farm methods and other algaculture solutions. The most common type of algae that is grown on vertical farms is microalgae. These include microphytes, phytoplankton, and planktonic algae. Macroalgae, such as seaweed, also have commercial uses and are regularly grown on algae farms today. They are fast-growing marine and freshwater plants that can reach a considerable size. Commercial algae are used for much more than feed solutions though, as it’s also used for food coloring, medicines, and fuel. It’s also a good chemical feed, fertilizer, and assists with pollution control. As far as feed, it can be consumed as-is but is commonly added to nutritional supplements and made into a powder form for easier consumption.
The majority of algae farms will specialize in just one form of algae production. The term for this specialization is monoculture, and algae farmers will choose which type of algae is best suited for their algae farming practices. They’ll need to take great care to set up the right facilities for this type of algae and ensure they keep their supply as pure as possible. When other species are combined within the algae culture, this causes huge issues as these other species start to take over and dominate. These pure cultures are suitable for both research and commercial purposes and offer fewer risks to consumers. Some algae farming does combine mixed species, and this is usually done to produce food for sea creatures. This is a great feed solution for the future, which requires minimal effort or production for farmers. Algae farming and vertical algae farm setups will often add a filter to these farms so that algae that are too large for seafood to eat is safely removed. There is a lot to consider when setting up an algae farm, just like any other cultivation and production process.
Microalgae are microscopic organisms that have a single cell or live in colonies. They grow incredibly fast and are known to double in size within just one day. As far as microalgae farming, the two most common ways in which it’s cultivated include an open cultivation system or controlled closed cultivation systems. The open systems include open ponds and tanks, but closed systems use various bioreactors. One of the top reasons for microalgae farming is that it’s a promising feed solution for animals and can assist with biofuel production. It’s a very productive species that can easily be grown on a large scale within a short amount of time. On top of that, microalgae don’t require arable land or disrupt the biodiverse landscapes.
Microalgae farming can even take place in saline or wastewater, but this will depend on the final use of the finished product. Microalgal oil is a very precious commodity and is often added to supplements instead of omega-3 fish oil. This is ideal for vegans or anyone looking to minimize their impact on the environment. However, for microalgae farming to become more mainstream, it needs to be a more affordable commercial option. Currently, this type of farming requires a lot of resources and funding, which is why so few farms specialize in this field to this date. However, with our growing population, it’s likely that algae farming will continue to expand in the future.
Algae in agriculture is a field that is growing year after year. More people than ever realize the benefits of algae for both humans and animals. With vertical algae farm solutions and other new additions to algae in agriculture, it’s likely to only become more mainstream in the future. We are excited to see where these developments go and experience the benefits of algae on a wider scale in the future. We’ll be here to keep you up to date with the changes in the industry and discover more about how algae farming will benefit the next generations.