Interventions

Algae technology expands to cane industry

Water cleaning technology being trialled in the prawn industry is set to expand to the cane sector.
Algae technology expands to cane industry

MDB Energy developed the technology which uses algae to absorb the nutrients in fish ponds, expel clean water, and at the same time produce large quantities of edible protein.

The company initially trialled the water cleaning system at the Pacific Reef prawn farm and last year’s testing proved successful with a significant reduction in nutrient run-off.

Those results were the reason why MBD Energy managing director, Andrew Lawson, said there were opportunities to use the algae in the cane industry, which has been under enormous pressure to reduce farm run-off.

He said planning was underway with the State and Federal Governments to develop a five-hectare trial on a Queensland cane farm.

"We’ve modelled 440, 000 hectares as being the figure that would clean up half the nitrogen in the cane industry, which is a small amount of land when you consider the large mass of farms, but that’s a fantastic reduction."

Lawson said there has been interest from cane growers, refineries, and industry representatives but nothing would be promised until the system was proven to work as well it had for prawn farming.
"We’ll run this pilot and measure it within an inch of its life but then we’ll be able to say, hand-on-heart, this is a system that’s worthy of replication."

With demand for protein growing in Asia, especially in India and China, there could be potential to harvest the algae to be sold for food, medicine and fertiliser.

Lawson was hopeful these markets could open up another income stream for prawn and cane farmers.

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