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Alternative title: NutriCycle

Awarded: NOK 9.3 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2023 - 2025

Funding received from:

Did you know that for over 1,000 years, humans have produced vegetables using nutrient-rich water from fish? This production form is called aquaponics. Today, aquaponics is used on a small scale around the world. Our ambition is to utilize the symbiosis between fish and vegetables on a large scale through cleaning and recycling resources from land-based fish farming. Norwegian Salmon is perhaps the world's best-known Norwegian brand. The salmon grows large and tasty on a feed full of nutrients. With land-based salmon production, we can take advantage of the nutrient-rich water that the fish swim in. Unfortunately, this water is a secondary resource that is not used any further today. In the project Nutricycle, we will look at how the surplus water from land-based salmon farming can be utilized as fertilizer for vertical farming of vegetables. By vertical farming, we mean a production system with complete control over the growing environment. The plants grow on tables stacked on each other to save space and give a high yield per unit area. We clean the water and make the nutrients available to the plants. We do not use soil or plant pesticides in production. In addition, we will have significantly lower water consumption than other farming methods. This technology gives the plants the best growing conditions to become tasty and nutritious all year round, which means there is always a season for Norwegian vegetables. To utilize the surplus water, we will develop and test the Nutribox, a device that will concentrate and store nutrients that are dosed and used in our vertical greenhouse. Nutribox will be developed with SINTEF and NIBIO and tested at NIBIO Landvik's research facilities. The next step will be to investigate the potential for this type of food production on a larger scale. The results from Nutricycle will contribute to a reduced loss of valuable nutrients from land-based fish farming and can contribute to increasing sustainable Norwegian food production.

The present project proposal, "nutricycle", dedicates itself to the current fertiliser crisis and the high nutrient discharge rates in the land-based aquaculture industry. Recycling nutrients from aquaculture waste streams, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, and making them bioavailable for agricultural practices will contribute to a sustainable agricultural closed-loop approach. Nutricycle uses an interdisciplinary approach, integrating biology, automation, economic growth, and sustainability in a broad context towards improving the sustainability of RAS and vertical hydroponic farms. While both systems are already highly technological, the decoupled aquaponics system (DAPS) Columbi Farms want to implement is still at the initial research stage. This project will be essential to develop NutriBox and to determine the concentration to which the RAS-derived fertiliser can be added to the hydroponic system. We will measure nutrient content chemically and by sensor technology to find a method for continuously controlling nutrient content and testing in a vertical hydroponic system. Today, commercial larger systems are still in a maturing experimental phase and literature on this topic is limited. Upscaling to industrial scale is a challenge because it requires a better understanding of the whole DAPS and the impact of nutrients extracted from industrial-scale RAS on vegetables. Therefore, it will be necessary for the project to investigate scalability and profitability by comparing DAPS with traditional HP systems. Results will contribute to reduced nutrient losses and increased environmental friendliness of land-based Norwegian salmon farming by fully utilising resources from the facilities. Thus, technology developed in nutricycle can improve the efficiency of resource utilisation of land-based fish farming, contributing to sustainable growth and deployment of the aquaculture industry. The results will be disseminated through conferences, scientific papers, PhDs.

Funding scheme: