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Seaweed farm— Illustration by TEAMS

Seaweed — a lot of zeros

As a food source, sustainably cultivated seaweed offers an impressive list of benefits.

This is part V of the series about innovation for sustainable solutions in food production. Read here: part I, part II, part III, part IV

So we talked a lot about how to grow food more sustainably and generate more appreciation for daily food and the processes around it. We had a look at food supply chains and new technologies.

One of the many remaining questions is: what are we going to cultivate in the future? If we want to feed 10 billion people, we have to look for new nutrition resources on any level. And of course, they have to be suitable for a nice meal, too. Looking for a new crop also means considering new places and ways to grow it.

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, which means many surfaces are left for agriculture. So what to cultivate here? Coastal areas are already used for growing seaweed.

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Seaweed possibilities — Illustration by TEAMS

As a food source, sustainably cultivated seaweed offers an impressive list of benefits: a fascinating combination of vitamins and minerals, unique compounds like fucoidans and alginates, and a natural flavor enhancer.

Besides, seaweed cultivation consumes no freshwater, does not need pesticides, produces no waste, needs no manure, and covers no arable land.

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Offshore seaweed farm — Concept illustration by TEAMS

Seaweed can be grown far offshore on swimming farms, but the maintenance of a seaweed farm — even if needed to a very limited extend — would then be complicated — if done by human staff. So how might automation and robotics help manage an offshore seaweed farm?

The seaweed will grow itself. Monitoring its growth and status can be done by a robot submarine; data are delivered in real-time. A ship would only have to come to harvest and transport the seaweed when it is ripe.

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

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Detail of offshore seaweed farm — Concept illustration by TEAMS

This is the last article of the series about the global agricultural industry's challenges and the possibilities for innovation and technology to address the matter sustainably. Written by Oliver Keller, Creative Director at TEAMS Hamburg, and Reinold Durstberger.

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