Having studied pond fertilization, as practiced in China, it is clear to me that algal growth can be enhanced through the controlled application of organic plant matter to algal pond water. And as a plus, the carbon waste decomposes under water and is sequestered by algae before it escapes into the atmosphere. Instead of creating a greenhouse gas converts the carbon into a usable organic fertilizer, without expending energy.
This is a method of algae production we are studying at OTGE here in Atlanta. By adding fresh grasses, alfalfa, kudzu or clover, etc. to algae ponds systems, we are supplying a local source of CO2, when it is unfeasible to divert exhaust emissions or buy CO2 cannisters as practiced in biofuel algae farms.
Dr Friendly and volunteers, seen in this Algae Lab video in Berkeley California, are doing some cool stuff with algae and spirulina. They’re experimenting with home grown spirulina, converting CO2 from propane generator exhaust and as we practice here, the Algae Lab in Berkeley is using human urine as an organic nitrogen and phosphorus source for growing algae. Dr Friendly likes the urine as it satisfies the need to use fertilizer and it is free and readily available. When asked about blackwater, he prefers to send the bacteria and parasite laden waste to an anaerobic digester where it reduces to a usable methane heating gas plus a sterilized fertilizer.
What I particularly liked about Dr Friendly’s video was his comment about combining algae plus biochar. Algae is microscopic as are the pores of biochar. This allows for a tight bond of nitrogen and phosphorus rich algae to a potassium rich biochar replete with minerals and trace elements. Such a blend gives us a resource, harvesting algae from water, after it removes nitrogen and phosphorus. By binding algae with biochar, a home grown –super fertilizer – plant media is formed.
Like urine plus biochar, algae plus biochar is on the horizon of the next frontier. Worm tea is there too. All are certain to put life back into our depleted soils and organic aquaponic garden beds.