Springtide Seaweed, a company in Maine, is working to expand U.S. seaweed production beyond kelp with funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).

The company is addressing several challenges to expand seaweed production and is focusing on two species of seaweed, dulse (Palmaria palmata) and nori (Porphyra spp.) as they are nutritious and valuable products.

The goal of the project is to develop reliable nursery protocols for commercial production of seed for dulse and nori and develop a new seaweed farming industry for the North Atlantic.

Sarah Redmond of Springtide Seaweed in Maine, US is working to expand the country’s seaweed production beyond kelp, with funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).

Redmond sees dulse and nori as nutritious and valuable products that are attractive for aquaculture, but notes that there are challenges to commercializing them, such as reliable seed supplies and a limited understanding of suitable cultivation practices.

Dulse is native to the North Atlantic and has been used by both European immigrants and Native Americans, but no one has yet figured out how to cultivate it on a commercial scale.

They have designed new modular turnkey nursery systems which are being tested and refined for red seaweed seed production. In addition, six cultivation substrates have been tested in a large-scale field trial, and seeding density, growth, timing, biofouling, and yield data was collected for both the nursery and farm stages.

Nori and dulse seeding on additional test substrates and forms is currently underway. As part of the upcoming season, Springtide will test net designs and configurations and will continue to refine cage designs and substrate options.

Finally, the project is developing sustainable business strategies to enhance the success of other new seaweed aquaculture firms.

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