Barbados and other Caribbean countries are being urged to not miss out on opportunities to supply fertilisers and animal feed additives from the sargassum seaweed that has inundated beaches.
Urging the region to not let the huge amounts of sargassum go to waste, founding father of the Guernsey-based The Seaweed Food Co. Ben Tustin said more research needs to be done to find out how the algae could possibly be used to assist boost food security.
“I’m not suggesting seaweed is a single solution to the world food crisis or climate issues in any respect, however it’s an enormous a part of it and other people don’t seem to pay attention to it,” he said on Friday during a session on Constructing Climate Resilience Through Food Security on the Virtual Island Summit 2022.
Tustin, whose two-year-old company collects seaweed and uses it to supply seasonings and skincare products, said he was surprised more use was not being product of the natural resource that many countries had “literally sitting on their doorstep”.
“Sargassum is incredibly useful. It doesn’t have the variability of all kinds of seaweed however it is stuffed with nutrients, it is stuffed with vitamins, it will probably be used as fertiliser. It doesn’t should be processed in any respect. It may be worked into the soil and grow the vegetables that we want and the vegetables to feed the animals that we want,” he said.
“What it will probably even be used for is in parts of dietary supplements for cattle…. Between five and ten per cent of their diets is made up of seaweed. It may reduce their methane emission anywhere from 60 to 90 per cent, and methane is the worst greenhouse gas.
“….So, when it comes to the drift seaweed, we actually need to make use of it as fertiliser or potentially animal feed so long as it will probably be tested and it will probably be shown to be edible. There will not be enough research done,” Tustin added.
Further making a case to be used of the resource as fertiliser, the seaweed aficionado pointed to the rising cost of fuel which he said was leading to a decline in production of chemical fertilisers.
He said the sargassum seaweed was a available and simple source.
“It doesn’t should be washed, it will probably be put straight into the land, it will probably be pounded or it will probably be left on the highest and it will give you the chance to naturally take the nutrients into the soil. It’s a natural fertiliser that only a few of us are using, which is kind of staggering. Should you are using it on the land it would repair chemical-fertilised land inside 18 months,” Tustin insisted.
Nonetheless, just two weeks ago, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Adrian Forde said studies have shown that the sargassum seaweed accommodates higher than accepted levels of arsenic, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals that make it harmful for consumption.
While acknowledging that the seaweed is capable of absorb heavy metals, Tustin said what needed to be determined, nonetheless, was whether those chemicals were transferred to the soil and, subsequently, to plants.
“Also, what’s the worst scenario? You might be probably currently eating vegetables that were grown using glyphosate [a herbicide], which is horrific, and it does get into vegetables,” he contended.
“I’m not saying that heavy metals are great. Nonetheless, I can be testing the tip plant and never the seaweed . . . It will not be the weather – chemicals or molecules – themselves that pass directly from seaweed to soil to plant, it’s the method that [is important]. What we are attempting to do is encourage microbial activity within the soil. If we got soil that could be very energetic with good microbes they’ll process just about every part. Admittedly, heavy metals are tougher but ultimately it’s what’s ending up within the plant. I might suggest testing the plants, not the seaweed,” Tustin advised. (MM)