Caribbean Sargassum Seaweed Fertilizer Field Trials to Begin Soon

CRFM and PFR to trial Sargassum-derived fertilizer, addressing environmental and economic challenges posed by seaweed blooms in the Caribbean.

Quadri Adejumo
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Caribbean Sargassum Seaweed Fertilizer Field Trials to Begin Soon

Caribbean Sargassum Seaweed Fertilizer Field Trials to Begin Soon

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) are set to initiate field trials for a liquid fertilizer derived from Sargassum seaweed. The trials aim to address the environmental and economic challenges posed by excessive Sargassum blooms that have been impacting Caribbean beaches and coastal communities in recent years.

The Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience Project, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, seeks to mitigate the negative effects of Sargassum influxes by creating inclusive value chains for the seaweed. Following successful scientific studies and greenhouse trials, the project partners will collaborate with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and regional private sector partners to test the Sargassum-derived fertilizer in the field.

The project adheres to the principles of the circular economy and the precautionary principle to ensure the safe and sustainable use of Sargassum. The final phase will focus on outreach and supply chain development to disseminate the model to Caribbean industry stakeholders.

Why this matters: The Sargassum Belt, weighing 13 million tons last year, is the largest algae bloom in the world and poses significant challenges to the Caribbean region. Finding sustainable solutions to manage and utilize the seaweed is crucial for protecting coastal environments, tourism, and local economies.

Researchers are preparing for the return of enormous Sargassum blooms to the Caribbean and South Florida beaches in late May. The seaweed can bury beaches, impact sea turtle nesting, and create a foul odor when it washes ashore. While Sargassum provides a habitat for marine life at sea, it becomes a nuisance once it reaches the shore. Researchers are working on a satellite-based tracking system to better predict where the seaweed will impact specific beaches, and cleanup crews in the Caribbean are gearing up to rake up thousands of pounds of seaweed daily when it arrives.

Key Takeaways

  • CRFM and PFR to initiate field trials for Sargassum-derived liquid fertilizer.
  • Project aims to mitigate negative effects of Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean.
  • Sargassum Belt is the world's largest algae bloom, posing challenges to the region.
  • Researchers preparing for return of massive Sargassum blooms to Caribbean and Florida.
  • Researchers working on satellite-based tracking system to predict Sargassum impacts.