We got Kelp
March 2, 2021
During its inaugural grow-out season, ORA has been excitedly monitoring the growth of their test lines that were deployed in December. With varying results across sites, it is providing important data with respect to commercial feasibility and yield. The seed lines were transplanted into the ocean mid-December, and will be harvested for product development purposes at the end of May, and into June. The largest blades to date (Feb 28, 2021) were touching 35cm, with the peak of the growing season still to come.
COO Matthias Kempe comments "This first season is giving us such a good learning experience and is making us aware of many obstacles associated with the grow-out period. One of our sites is in a relatively protected area and has encountered a log entanglement that was fatal for one section of the test site, while other sections on that site are looking very promising. We are realizing that the unexpected will inevitably happen, and to plan for the worst. This season is all about learning, and although we're only two and a half months in, we have already added several attributes to our internal list that makes up a favorable site for kelp cultivation. We plan to use our learnings towards creating a sophisticated exploration and testing protocol at Ocean Regenerative, to minimize yield risk associated with site selection."
Sugar kelp can grow up to 5% of its size a day. At it's peak, typically during the months of March and April, it can grow up to 5cm a day. In kelp cultivation, a common metric used to determine the productivity of a site is kilograms of biomass per meter of rope. Various levers are pulled on to optimize this metric, such as line spacing, length, seed line inoculation techniques, and timing of planting and harvesting. Harvesting must take place within a relatively narrow window before the kelp begins to form diatoms which can make the kelp unusable for human consumption. The industry has ample room for innovation, and as the practice of kelp farming is very laborious, ORA intends to invest heavily in the optimization and efficiency of the process.